Holding the Note

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The Story

Death sucks. And the death of a beloved pet can sometimes suck as much as the death of a human that you love. Especially if the pet is one you’ve raised since babyhood and has been your constant companion for nine years. And especially if you have a debilitating illness and your four-footed companion has stuck by your side through the worst days (as well as the not-so-bad days). And especially if the death comes with no warning – one minute your beloved pet is alive; the next instant she has collapsed with no vital signs. No rhyme nor reason to it; no logic, no rational explanation. The sadness is overwhelming; the loss devastating.

No one knows what to say to you. ” Is there anything I can do to help?” No, there really isn’t. You just have to make sure you get up and get by, hour by painful hour, day by sorrow-filled day. 

And gradually – a moment here, a few moments there – something tugs you away from the sadness. A friend’s visit. A plant blooming in your garden. Preparing a special meal for a family member. And then, for a few minutes, or an hour or two, there is a break in your sorrow, a longer reprieve. A good movie. A meal out with family. Playing with your sibling’s pets. Eventually – in a few months or maybe a year or two – you might entertain the thought of finding another little four-footed one to raise, to train, to live with you, to love. 

Because what’s a heart for, after all, but to open us to love? And what’s a beloved pet for, after all, but to teach us how to love – unconditionally, completely, heart-to-heart?

“Holding the Note” is a metaphor I use for mentally bathing someone we love in thoughts and prayers of healing and peace. I created the slides and the poem above for Jeremy, my husband’s son, who is living with multiple sclerosis and whose beloved pet Lacie suddenly died at our house two months ago. I am holding the note for Jeremy …