"Grieving is a very necessary process."
Andrew, Touched by an Angel
I'm beginning to feel a bit like the Angel of Death. Not a dark and scary angel. More like Andrew from the TV show Touched by an Angel. You always knew someone was getting close to dying when Andrew appeared in the scene wearing his all white suit. Even though you knew the goodbye was going to happen and you'd probably need a couple of tissues, there was something comforting about watching Andrew lead the dying one across to the great unknown.
At one point in my life, because I'd never experienced the actual death of a loved one - you know, actually seeing the lifeless body - I was really scared of being in the room when it happened. In the way (S)He does, God put me in the right place at the right time so that I'd have practice before I was called on to sit by my mother's death bed. Each and every time has been anything but scary.
In the last few years I've also been present when some beloved cats went to play with the great ball of yarn in the sky. This morning, I sat on the floor with our sweet Black Beauty. I knew the time was coming. Cataracts covered her eyes. She was deaf, confused, partially incontinent, and suffered more and more from arthritis in her back and hips. So when her back legs wouldn't hold up this morning I pretty much figured it was not going to be a good day. She rallied enough to go outside and I believed maybe we'd been given a reprieve from making the hard decision today. But as she ate her breakfast her legs just slid out from under her and she looked at each of us, Dad, Jack and I, as if to say please help me.
With strength I didn't know I had I picked her up and carried her to the car. I was worried about going to the VetER because I didn't know how they'd be under the circumstances. I shouldn't have worried because both Beauty and I received gentle, compassionate treatment. After weighing the pros and cons, I made the decision that is so hard for pet owners to make. I tried to think of what Jon Katz would advise. I didn't want to keep Beauty here, just because I was a weenie. I sat on the floor with her and held her head in my lap. Like Andrew, I stayed with her as she headed to doggy heaven. I scratched her head and whispered thank yous for her devoted friendship to each of us. I imagined Mother waiting just on the other side, calling Beauty and the dog who couldn't walk, ran like she was a puppy to say hello.
Photo: Mom and Beauty and I on the top of Buck Bald in Tennessee. That day will forever be one of the best in my memory.
I don't have any idea what heaven is like. Or if there even is a heaven. I do, however, have a strong belief that those who leave this world go home to their Creator and that just has to be good. How can it not be?
Sweetie called me brave this morning. I think I just did what had to be done. I pray for the courage to be as objective when the time comes to sit with Dad as he heads to his heavenly home. I'm pretty sure I won't be dressed in white, but if I can be as comforting as Andrew I think I will have completed my job.
Wishing for you something warm and furry with a wet nose to love,