“How do you feel about your sister getting another dog so soon?” He asked over an hour after I explained the terrible situation to him.
“I think it is a great idea,” I said. “She has all the energy to be a dog owner and there are other dogs out there who need a home.”
He looked puzzled but didn’t press the issue more. As if mourning could only be done without a role replacement.
I walked up the stairs still explaining, “Nothing changes the fact that she died, not a new dog, not waiting to get another one, not getting out of bed early, not lying in bed depressed for two weeks. Nothing changes the fact that she had cancer and despite the fact that we did everything to give her a happy healthy life, she still died at the age of three like all four vets who checked her out told us she would.”
“I guess that makes sense,” he said closing his bed room door, “well, sleep well.”
“Good night,” I shrugged, not in the mood to cry about it. Crying only happens in certain mood and around certain people. Otherwise I’m fine, it all seems so black and white like her pretty soft fur.
That conversation has been rattling around in my head all day. That one as well as one I had a long time ago with another friend who didn’t understand why I got my current dog so soon after I lost the previous one to cancer.
“It’s just a rebound dog,” he said as if he thought I was stupid to get another dog.
“After that first one, they are all rebound dogs,” I explained. “What am I supposed to do all day, cry at every meal I would normally feed her, or give another living dog some food?”
He didn’t really understand. He hadn’t had a dog since childhood when his parents didn’t want to get another one. Jealousy maybe, deep down at how easily I was able to just get what I wanted while he was left with years of life-style anguish. Or so I think.
It was too late anyway, I already had adopted the new one. I’m glad I did, everyday. She’s wonderful. She’s probably about 11 years old now. I freak out whenever a tumor might be cancerous or she has a cough, but everything has always turned out to be benign or fixable with medicine. The vet even says we don’t need to worry so much. She is at that sweet age dogs get to with age and experience when they know exactly what you are talking about and can ask for whatever they want easily. They get better with age.
Losing them is hard because you have to tell them to trust the doctor who kills them. It’s got that element of deception even though you know what you are doing is lessening the pain and suffering they would otherwise go through dying a natural death.
It’s a different lesson on loss than losing a family member whose role cannot be filled, like a mother or father. Siblings and cousins are half way role fillable, but they’re unique. Friends, it depends on how friendly you are. I’ve found that friends are very replaceable and easy to let go of. There are plenty I want to keep forever, but I’ve learned to make new friends through losing others so I find the pain of losing them goes away fastest compared to pets and family members.
In answering his question about getting a new dog so soon, I realized that some people don’t separate how they think they should feel from how they feel and the reality of what is actually going on in the real world. Does the previous dog care that we got another dog? We don’t know. All we know is that we planned to take care of a dog for the next ten years and we don’t have a dog to take care of. In a perfect afterlife, I hope she’s happy that she joined the rest of our pack on the other side. I know those girls up there will take good care of her. In my dreams my grandmother already told me that she likes her so all I can do is believe that she is in good dog heaven hands. Meanwhile, we down here must live for the living and keep on keeping on.