Tag Archives: loss

All Good Things Must

For nine years I’ve had a dog. Boxer. White, with a left-side pirate patch and sad eyes. High-energy, clever, eager to please. But I’ve had so much more than that.

For nine years I’ve had a shadow, first following me around as I followed the kids, then trailing behind me as I did my work in an otherwise empty house when everyone else was at work or school. My shadow slept by my side while I wrote stories I thought no one would ever read, sat in the kitchen while I cooked, looked for me if I disappeared when he was napping.

For nine years I’ve had an angel whose need for exercise motivated me to walk, which turned out to be the best thing for my depression. He urged me to keep up with that little act of self-care and helped me get back to feeling like myself. And he jogged with me, at least until his aging body couldn’t run anymore.

And then we walked again, because I couldn’t lace up my shoes and run without him.

For nine years I’ve had a friend, someone I could talk to when there was no one else, who listened without judgement. He laid his head on my lap and gazed up at me, letting me know I was loved unconditionally, that I was never alone.

For weeks now, my shadow has been fading. He hasn’t been eating. He’s been in pain, though no one can tell me why. I’ve done everything I could to keep him with us, even when he didn’t like the examinations and medicines.

But he kept fading.

A few days ago, my friend gave up. He stopped trying to follow his family around the house and instead stayed in bed all day, only getting up when prompted—and then not at all. The light went out of his eyes, though he still listened, still responded to gentle affection.

I didn’t want to give up, but there comes a time when it’s cruel to force someone onward when their journey is so clearly over.

We humans take familiar things for granted—shadows, friends, angels. I think I’ve appreciated mine while I had him, knowing it wouldn’t last forever, but I still wish we had more time.

We don’t, though. Today it was time to repay all the kindness this beautiful spirit has heaped on my family all these years.

Jack spent his last day in the shade of the maple trees in his yard, surrounded by his family, before his trip to the vet. He died peacefully at 4:30.

It hurts. A lot. But he’s okay now. And we will be, too.


What Have We Learned Today, Children?

My older son is into Lego now. Big time. He wants all of the big sets (especially all things Star Wars), but as these are horrendously expensive and I want him to create things on his own, we’re sticking with smaller sets that can be mixed up in the Bucket o’ Legos and made into new things.

His latest adventure is building every version of the DeLorean from the Back to the Future movies. It starts with a base from a tractor set, and has bits added from there. Steering wheel, dashboard computer, the bit where the garbage goes in… he does it all, and he’s very proud of his creations.

Until he drops them on the floor.

This is one disadvantage of Lego toys, and another reason we don’t buy the big sets. If you’re playing with the things you make, they’re going to break. Unless you glue them together, it’s pretty much inevitable.

My dear child is a sensitive sort, and he takes disappointment about as well as I do– that is, not well at all. On Wednesday he dropped the BTTF III DeLorean and the rear end shattered. And he cried. Of course he did. He’d spent a lot of time building that. Worse, he had convinced himself that he couldn’t do it again. This car, this thing that he’d created, had been perfect, the ultimate, the very best he could do, and it could never be replaced.

He was crushed.

I tried to reason with him. “The car you made was amazing,” I told him (not lying- given the limited supplies he had available, it was pretty awesome). “You’re upset about this, and that’s OK. I know it hurts to lose something you’ve worked so hard on.”

Yes, folks, I had my Good Mama panties on that day. It’s hard not to be frustrated with a “big” kid who’s wailing over something that seems insignificant in the larger scheme of things (“a LEGO car? Kid, I have BILLS to pay and I can’t figure out what’s making the fridge stink!”), but I really did understand. I’ve been there. I’ve written 55,000 words of a story and then lost it all in a computer glitch/crash/file transfer error. I’ve worked on customizing a pony, spent hours on it, and realized I was painting the wrong side. I know the pain of having to start over.

So I let him be upset, and I tried to reassure him. I told him that he’d done it once, he could do it again. I told him (again, from experience) that it would probably be even better the second time around. He would take what he learned the first time and build on it.

He didn’t believe me. He said he could never do it again. Finally I explained to him he had two options: he could set it aside until he calmed down and then try again, or he could give up.

“I don’t want to give up!” he wailed. He went to his room and closed out the whole cruel, Lego-breaking world for a while.

And then, when I wasn’t looking, he sneaked out and made a new Delorean.

It was better. He was happy.

Did he learn anything from that experience? I don’t know. I’d like to think so, but this was not our first time dealing with this exact same issue (hence the frustration on my part).

I did, though. It’s something I think most of us have been through: creation of something we love, loss of that creation, the temptation to say “Screw it, I didn’t want a DeLorean anyway.” But when we pick up the pieces (literally or figuratively speaking) and ask what we’ve learned from our past attempts, we find that we can make something just as good– or even better. Not a new lesson to me, but one I needed to be reminded of.

That’s not the only lesson I’ve learned in the past few days, but it’ll do for now. Maybe next week we’ll take a look at “Congratuations, You Can’t Win.” THAT’S a fun one!

So tell me: have you been there? What was your Lego DeLorean, and how did the next attempt turn out? Have you ever decided that something was just too broken to be fixed?

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