August 2001, Skylar (5 yrs old) and I went to the mall for a pair of jeans. We were easily sidetracked into the local pet store. Skylar asked if we could get one of the puppies out to hold and I of course said yes! We chose a cute little 3 lb, 3 month old male chihuahua named Otis. We sat there holding him and playing with him and we fell in love. Sky said “mom you think we could get him?!” I looked at his price tag …$900 and I gasped ….um no! Of course the sales lady was listening and she began to explain their financing plan. $45/mo for about 2 years and I could return him after 48 hours if my husband was mad…ha! SOLD!! (I do not recommend buying any cat or dog from a pet store, but I’m so glad we bought him!)
After some paperwork, Skylar and I walked out of the mall grinning from ear to ear and me telling her “I hope dad doesn’t kill me!” We came home and surprised 3-year-old Lexy and almost 1-year-old Caden…both beyond excited to have a puppy! Our first dog! We aptly renamed him “Spike”…. (paying homage to Rugrats!).
We eventually gave Spike 3 more dogs to play with (ha! can you tell we love animals?) Spike of course always remained our “first family dog” and was often called Fat Boy or Pot Belly Pig because of his large gut! We loved him all the same and he was always special to Sky and me…our little indulgence that day at the mall all those years ago.
This past Sunday morning we found Spike forever asleep…..no doubt already sitting at Sky’s feet begging for a belly rub. Losing a family pet is so heart breaking. For many people (esp. those without children) their pets ARE their children and very much a part of the family. Having lost Sky, obviously this pain doesn’t even touch on the same level, however it’s pain all the same. I felt so sad for my kids who have barely known a day without Spike and for me….I cried for me. It was like one more piece of Skylar was gone.
I started thinking with the passing of Spike, how slowly things will start to disappear that Skylar “touched” or had a part of. Eventually years from now it will be things like a new car that she’s never been in, another family trip that she isn’t a part of, a new technology that she will never know, a girlfriend of Caden’s that she will never meet, nieces and nephews that she’ll never get to hold….the list goes on and on. That for me is the hardest part in all of this… not necessarily what Skylar is missing but what others are missing that never get a chance to know the beautiful person that she is.
I think for many of us who grieve a loved one (esp. a child) we hold on to the pain for so long because it’s all we have….at least we feel it’s all we have…in order to feel close to them. Without the pain and tears every day, who am I? And where is Skylar? I know I feel if I am “okay” then it gives others the permission to forget her….to move on. Two things…..I’ll never be ok and I know those who love her will NEVER forget her……but convincing your grieving mind of that daily, isn’t always so easy.
All of this reflecting, just from the passing of our beloved Spikey. We know animals don’t live nearly long enough but we always hope and pray ours are the exception. For us, dealing with a death of someone we love (even if it is just an animal) so soon after losing Sky, seemed like 3 steps back.
But then I’m reminded all around me, that of course death IS a part of life….there’s simply no way around it. Sky just beat us to it. She IS home.
I refer to this verse often when I am feeling so completely discouraged about Sky……
2 Corinthians 5:6-8 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.
I love you more baby girl.