By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Time for goodbye

From the Editor

 

November 15, 2018

Raven on a Thanksgiving walk in 2017.

This may come off a bit morbid, but I've been thinking a lot about mortality these past few days. I've been thinking of how scared many are of it, how we do almost anything to prevent the inevitable.

On Friday, my family said goodbye to our 16-year-old black lab, Raven. It maybe seems a bit silly that her death could spur me on to consider my own death someday and the deaths of others over the years. But Saturday morning, I woke up in melancholy and moved slowly.

Raven had not been well. When a dog her size is 16, you live with a certain knowledge that her time would be drawing to a close. But we put it off, hoping for I don't know what. Thursday, though, I knew it had to be time. Her legs hardly held up her own weight.

When I made the appointment, I thought the dear girl could hold out to Wednesday. They offered a Friday appointment, but that was too soon. It felt too soon. So I went with Wednesday. But Raven had deteriorated quickly overnight. At work, I got a call that the decision had been made to reschedule for that day. I left without too much explanation and spent the next couple hours with Raven watching a Netflix movie for distraction.


My sister and I were in the room with Raven. They gave her some sedatives and after the next shot, her heartbeat slowly gave out. So painful, so peaceful. We buried her that evening near a tree she would lay under during her life. Ironically or maybe beautifully, my dad had taken down that tree earlier this year. All that remains is a stump.

There is something cathartic in being able to lay to rest a beloved pet on your own terms. Move the dirt, break open the earth to hold her, dress the wound, see the spot that will never quite be the same.

A friend sent me a message asking if I was "quite sad" yet. I told her just sad, no quite anymore. The thing about pain, this same friend had told me a week earlier in an unrelated matter, is that you have to walk through it. There is no shortcut, no way around.

Raven, I want to tell you, was hands-down, the best dog I've ever met. She accompanied us on countless walks through the woods, always making sure we got home. Somehow that girl spoke. Just by her mannerisms, I knew when it was time to go home. She was a mother to pretty much everything and everyone who was lucky enough to meet her.

I've been holding Inge - our other pup - a little closer since Friday. She's young, but she's clever and knows Raven isn't home anymore.

And I think that's a proper reaction to death - hold each other a little closer. There's no way to push it off, nothing you can do to stop it. But we can treasure what is given to us in measure each day. There is strength for today, bright hope for tomorrow.


 

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