Hi everybody! You may have noticed I took a little hiatus from blog-writing for a while. There have been some stress-inducing events occurring in my life recently (which I swear I will share as soon as the time in right-and none of it is any problem between Lena and I-we are solid) as well as Roxanne, the psychic dog, dying.
There were a laundry list of things that were going wrong with her, most of them stemming from an enormous and completely inoperable tumor that was growing around and crowding out her internal organs throughout her abdomen. She had stomach, intestinal, kidney and liver problems, which one would expect from such a thing, but also heart and lung problems brought on indirectly from the same source.
On Thursday night (the 4th) she tottered into the kitchen and lay down. I believe she was trying to get outside into the back yard to die and the kitchen was as far as she could get. We called our vet who came out the next day and administered the final injection, with Roxanne in my arms.
A little bit less than a year ago, I held my grandfather’s hand in the hospital as he died. I felt something when that happened, like a fluttering rush of invisible butterflies traveling at tremendous speed through his hand, my arm, and settling in my chest. Nothing like that occurred with Roxanne. But the next thing that happened did.
When my grandfather died, he left. The transformation of his death was not “living granddad” to “dead granddad,” but rather “living granddad” to “some dead body.” What was left was palpably not my granddad, but literally just a body. Before I had this experience I always thought that open casket ceremonies were kind of ghoulish and even stupid. I didn’t understand what the sense of closure really meant. (I have been fortunate not to have to deal with a lot of deaths yet in my life.) But it isn’t “Yep, he’s really dead.” it’s “That isn’t him. He’s gone somewhere else.”
Now I’m not terribly religious in the conventional sense, but I do believe that everyone creates their own afterlife. If you want to spend eternity singing hosannahs, then that’s what you ought to do. Me, I figure I’ll get in some traveling. Each to his own.
As for Roxanne, just like Granddad, I could tell the very instant her life left her, for that’s exactly what happened. One second Roxanne was lying on the kitchen floor, head in my lap, and the next she had gone somewhere else, and I was left with just a body.
Why is any of this important? Why does it matter a bit? Both my granddad and Roxanne were huge in my life. Their deaths could have been devastating to me. In fact, I fully expected both of them to be. But they weren’t. I didn’t so much feel like I was watching the expire, as seeing them off. I miss them both terribly, but I am not worried for them. I never thought I would feel this way, but I am happy for them. They both had long, full, and rich lives that ended in pain, and their deaths were as much a blessing for them as anything else.
After Roxanne passed, the vet suggested we bring Guinness into the room. She said sometimes when one pet dies and the others do not get to see the dead animal they will get a bit nuts running around trying to find them. I went and got him from my office where he was waiting patiently to be released. He inspected the body briefly, nosed around a bit, and then went into the living room and hopped up on the sofa.
All he needed to understand and be okay was a little bit of closure.