It’s been a month since our beloved Samuel passed away.
Apple and I decided today we would wash his stuffies and pack them in a plastic storage bin. I held off doing this just because…. well, just because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to wash his dog bed that is the size of a raft. Sammy, and a few of his humans could fit easily on this bed. It was one of those great purchases from Costco.
As I took each one of his toys out of the dryer – I then sat them one by one on the laundry room shelf to cool down – that’s when I noticed Apple watching me. Her eyes were filled with big tears. I held her until she was ready to talk. She wasn’t hysterically crying – wasn’t an angry cry – just big tears that never even dropped down over her sweet apple-like cheeks.
We have learned to remove his routine from ours. We moved a little closer to what life is without having a dog. Well, not just a dog. Our dog. Our remarkable, loyal and loving Golden. Our Sammy.
I felt today was a good time to begin the process of packing his items away, taking his unopened food to a local animal shelter and as I mentioned, washing the cover of his bed. (which takes hours to dry!)
While Apple and I placed his Penn State leash (Easter gift from Pop-Pop Joe) in a special plastic box, she insisted we not give it away to the animal shelter. I wasn’t planning on giving any of Sammy’s items away – actually just washing and storing them for future use. Then it hit me. There have been conversations with others that getting a puppy will help curb the pain Apple is feeling. Unfortunately , Apple overheard one comment made by a neighbor to get another dog – immediately – that always helps. My husband and I would never do something as to rush out to replace. This was something that worried Apple. To replace something that meant so much to our family felt wrong to her. And she was absolutely right. When we – as a family are ready – then we will add to our home, a four-legged friend.
Apple, much calmer now, talked about how much she misses Sammy. She misses Sammy waiting at the door for her after school. How he would quietly wait for September to walk away from her food bowl, only to grab that one microscopic morsel. How Sammy would listen to her read new chapter books. And he did! But each day, he just wanted to be with his little human.
As we packed Mr. Monkey, Squirrel, Getpig (a pink pig that oinks), Moo, Tigger, a new Nittany Lion squeaker-sneaker, and a few others…..we both laughed and cried. Apple counted how many times Sammy pulled the legs off of Hedgehog, and each time we would stitch them back on, only to repeat this twenty or more times. He loved the life out of the same Hedgehog that traveled with him from Pennsylvania to Virginia. Hedgehog also made a few trips on vacation with us. This is why the hog, was never replaced. It was like a special blanket for a child, or those favorite pair of slippers….Hedgehog wasn’t going anywhere!
All of his items are now kept neatly in storage. I’m sure we will see them again another day. Until then, his memories are kept in our hearts….and in a special photo journal Apple began creating.
You don’t need to be a dog person to understand the loss our little girl experienced. My husband and I know what that pain and emptiness feels like. Prior to our move we lost our beloved German Shepard, Heidi to hip disease. Heidi and Sammy were like Velcro only being two months apart. We also experienced the pain of losing two very special people in our lives. Apple was too young to really understand what happened to my father-in-law, Grandpa Dwight – and my mother, Grandma Doris. Pain is part of life. No matter how I would like to remove it all together! A loved one passing, family crisis, and a friend having been diagnosed with an illness….. pain is pain. It’s how we live with changes and difficulties that make all the difference. I pray for the strength and knowledge for helping my children to cope with pain. And sometimes, as parents we just can’t protect from all life’s rough edges.
But on this Sunday afternoon, I watched my youngest work through her pain not with adding a band aid on her heart…..but allowing the pain she has been feeling to become closure. She may have more tears, and may have many more questions for us, but today was a day for closure. Letting go of the pain…. holding on to the happiness we feel when we think of our loved ones.