Thank you for joining me for coffee, this morning. The past few weeks have been disorienting, and many adjustments are being made. I’ve been quite ill, although recovering, now, and a little more than a week ago, my husband also came down with a severe head and chest cold.
In the midst of it all, sometime on Thursday or Friday, our dog Samantha contracted an infection. We took her to the vet, who spoke with us about options and outcomes. We stayed that evening while she was under sedation for her exam, and then the vet administered a shot to end her life.
Our previous Cockers had lived to 15 and 14 years. Losing Samantha before her eighth birthday came as a shock to us. When Al and I got married, though, he had a buff Cocker spaniel named Brandy, who died at age eight or nine.
There has been much grief in our families in recent years due to family illness and death. One of my coping mechanisms in the past was eating. Not to kill the pain, exactly, but to keep busy. Filling the time until the intensity of grief faded. Mindfulness in living has been helpful. Taking deliberate care in selecting groceries and preparing meals helps me to focus on doing, accomplishing what needs to be done and engaging in activities that bring us together. Staying healthy makes life easier. I’m also recovered enough that on Tuesday and Thursday (for the first time since April, I think) I got on the exercise bike and put in three miles each day. I am starting out with three days a week: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
What I am discovering this time around is that the attention to activities is slowing down my thinking and also bringing mental and emotional processing to the forefront of my mind. Mourning: Al and I had already planned that when Samantha died, we would look for two young dogs to bring home. I remind myself that just as Samantha was not my dog Ladd (1993-2008) or Al’s Rascal, who died at the end of 2012, the new dogs will not be Samantha. They will not be replacements, but new and individual. Just as I and my siblings were/are unique, even though we came out of the same family. There is loss, there’s grief, but there is also an openness and adjustment to the new relationships and bonding.
For the time being, we are leaving the clean, empty wire kennel in the living room, conspicuously empty, so that we will remember that Samantha is not here anymore. In two weeks or so, we will collect the urn containing her ashes and put them with the other urns in memory. And remember her with joy, as we do other family members as the pain fades.
I would tell you, today, that it is good, not going through loss by oneself.
I hope that the coming week will be a joy to you as our lives and yours continue to unfold.
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