Saying Aloha To A Good Old Dog
Wednesday - February 10, 2010
Saying aloha to a friend can be painful, especially when that friend has been at your side for 15 years. Zeus was my best friend.
It’s been a month since we said goodbye to our beautiful black Labrador, and the pain has yet to ease. I still find myself staring at the door where he greeted me every morning, hoping he’ll be there - but he’s not. I picture his gentle eyes, his wagging tail and his loving smile - but I know they are only images burned in my memory.
There is much emptiness, but sweet memories fill the void.
I cry when I’m alone, knowing my tears will trigger emotions in my children. They miss him terribly, but they are coping. In a strange way, I am envious of their strength, wondering why I can’t let go of the sadness.
For 15 wonderful years, Zeus was at my side, protecting me and my family. His love was unconditional. No matter what time of day, no matter where he lay resting, the sound of my voice would grab his attention and he’d come running. There were no expectations. He didn’t beg for treats or whine for attention. He simply wanted me to know he was there - if I needed him.
I didn’t realize how much I needed him.
I find myself wishing I had given him more hugs.
I yearn to squeeze his cute little face one more time and smash my cheeks against his moist, black nose. It was his favorite ... or was it mine? Then I remind myself of the words I shared with my children the day he died.
“No regrets,” I said to my two youngest children while wiping away their tears. “Don’t think about what you didn’t do with Zeus; embrace what you did with him. Those are the memories that will comfort you.”
If I could only follow my own advice.
My oldest son Dane was 3 when we brought Zeus home. He was a cute puppy that was too big for a young family in Waikele. They had named him “Broccoli.” We quickly renamed him and promised we’d give him a loving home.
As our family grew, Zeus grew with us. We were blessed with our daughter Haven and then our youngest son Tai-John. Dane is now 18 and will soon be off to college, Haven is 13 and will soon enter high school, and Tai-John is 10. Zeus was the only dog they knew, and he loved protecting them like a big brother. My wife and I often felt like we had four children.
I know there are others who’ve experienced similar losses or perhaps are enduring this pain right now. My message to you:You’re not alone and what you’re feeling is real. The death of a pet can be as intense as the death of a close family member.
After all, they are family.
Time heals all wounds, but so does sharing your feelings. I find reading poetry helps me, especially one tribute written 41 years ago by Beth Norman Harris. It’s called Treat Me Kindly. The words are powerful including this excerpt that gives me comfort:
Speak to me often, For your voice is the world’s sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps fall upon my ears.
Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, For I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to the bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside thehearth.
I miss you, Zeus.You were a loyal friend, and I’m grateful for the time I had with you. You will never be replaced.
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