We’re All Still Sad At My House

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Though my remaining two dogs did not, at first, seem to know or care that Blackie Chan had died, the realization that the little dog is not coming back is sinking in. Darla and Rosa Parks are sticking very close to me in the house and yard. They look dazedly around when they finish their dinner, wondering why Blackie Chan is not barking, reminding me to distribute the after-dinner treats. “What do we do now,” they seem to be asking, “are we going to even get treats?” On our walks, Darla seems to forget that Blackie Chan isn’t with us; she circles back to try to locate him, as if he just got distracted and fell behind.

I’m kind of going through the same thing. When I need to roll over in the middle of the night, I carefully lift up on toes and one elbow while I rotate from one side to the other, so that I don’t disturb either little dog. Then I remember that there is only one dog in my bed these days. Funny, I swear I could feel the weight of the little black dog curled up behind my knees. Darla and Rosa Parks watch expectantly when I come home from work, to see if I have their little companion with me. And I walk into the house expecting to see him there to greet me, along with the other two. Oh. Yeah.

This is a bargain we strike when we open our lives to dogs. Their life-expectancy is simply not comparable to ours. Even at my age, I would not expect my dogs to out-live me. Blackie Chan was already eight years old when he came to live here. He was nearly blind, and had severe arthritis in his spine. He had congestive heart failure. I knew that this sadness was inevitable. Still, it came as a surprise. Neither the veterinarian or I expected that he would die that day. When the vet asked me to come back in two hours to pick him up, I fully expected a much improved dog to be coming back home with me. I wish I’d stayed with him, because he died there with strangers. And we are all still sad about it.

With that being said, I know there are bigger things to grieve. The death of a small dog does not compare. I’ve lost people; I know. There is sickness and loss and death right here on this small island, where everybody knows everybody, and most feel like family. A tornado recently touched down in a northern Michigan town not far from here, with some loss of life and extensive damage. The more I expand my view, the worse the news gets. Two more mass shootings in this country in the last three weeks. Ukraine. Global warming. A person could die of sadness and misery!

I don’t want to ignore it; I have to be aware. Still, it’s painful; I can only take so much. After a while, I just have to turn away from the news, put blinders on, and close out the big world with all of its tragedy. Make a cup of tea, light a candle, draw a bath, think of nothing but my own issues. Darla and Rosa Parks don’t like to be too far away from me these days; they crowd into the bathroom with me. That’s okay. We’re all still sad here.

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

10 responses »

  1. I’m so sorry. And I think a little dog, one that is very loved, is just as important a reason to be sad as all the other things. It’s just that there seem to be SO MANY other things. I hope you all settle into a good life eventually, but the little dog will always be right there. I’m facing this myself, and am in pre-grief of a sort even now. It seems to magnify all the other grief in the world.

    • You’re right, Dawn, there are so many other things to be sad about. Sometimes I feel like it’s a comfort to retreat into my little world, with my (not to diminish Blackie Chan’s importance in my life) small reasons for sadness. Thank you for your kindness and understanding. I wish you strength as you prepare for similar situation.

  2. Oh Cindy. My heart goes out to you as you adjust to life without your precious little boy. Just 2 months ago I had to have my old dog Hazel euthanized. I had only had her for 5 years, but we know she was at least 20, because I’m still friends with her original owner (two homes before mine!) My other dog and my cat didn’t notice her absence as much as your doggies did yours, but I still look for her around corners as I go from room to room.

    On top of our personal griefs are the collective ones that are so hard to take. The mass shootings, the brutality in Ukraine, the ongoing pandemic, the renewed assault on women’s health care, and I worry daily about our planet.

    Like you, I have to flip a switch and ignore the outside world for a little while every day to do my art, listen to music, go for walks. I can’t have any news on past 7 p.m., or I won’t get proper sleep. If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t be able to help change the world. And though I know I’ll be long gone before the problems are solved, I want to be a voice and a force for change as long as I can.

    Thank you for sharing your sadness. I think it helps both of us.

    • Thank you, Martha, for understanding. My daughter told me that in psychology, it’s called “disenfranchised grief,” where you don’t feel like you have the right to be sad because your issues are small in comparison to others. She said for that reason, it’s actually harder to work through. That makes sense to me. There are certainly bigger things to cause all of us to quake with the horror. Sometimes – not to diminish the little dog’s importance in my life – having that smaller thing causing my sadness is almost a comfort! Thank you for your kindness!

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