10/1/02 – 11/11/14
Yesterday, we had to tell Jameson that our beloved puppy was gone. Unexpectedly, he seemed to understand the concept of death already, that she was gone from us and not returning. He was incredibly sad, and immediately requested a new doggie. While I am certain he expected a new doggie to make him feel better, we know that is not entirely the case. It was the easiest question he asked. He also asked if we were with her, another unexpected but easy answer. The hardest part was watching him so sad, since this is his first experience with this kind of unresolvable sadness and grief.
Despite trying hard not to dwell on sickness or old age as reasons we die, he picked up on old age. He’s too young to explain that all of us die without causing fear, though I think he made that association anyway; or that death can also happen unexpectedly; so, we reassured him that Sasha had lived a very, very long time, and that she went to Heaven and can run in the grass there. He asked if tomorrow he will get older, and I told him that he will not be old for a very long time. I may have said that everyone lives for a very long time. It’s hard to find the answers to reassure and make him feel better, but to be truthful without opening up more questions he is too young to understand is nearly impossible. I am sure that won’t be the last of his questions about death and Heaven.
I did make him a book about Sasha, with photos of her as a puppy he has never seen before. It hasn’t really been the immediate hit that I expected, but I think it will be a useful tool when he asks more questions or misses her. Instead, he associated the book with making him sad, and he didn’t really want to read it again. I think he will want to later though.
We visited grandma last night, which was a much needed distraction for all of us. He has a big stuffed dog there, which he called his “pet doggie” and put it in the fort he and grandma made. So many, many sad moments. Some of the worst are associated with routine, of course. Looking for her in the morning when we get up or before bed. Leaving the garage door open when we get home to let her out. Thankfully, Coraline is so young, aside from looking for her very briefly, she has been a comic relief and little ray of sunshine for us. She chose an outfit today of all doggies.
I’ve found that I don’t really know Brian without Sasha, since the two were partners, his buddy, from the day I met him. It’s hard to find words to describe their relationship, since it was much more than master to pup. She will always be his very first baby. Watching him grieve is almost as hard as losing Sasha herself.
It took me a little time to love Sasha, not because she wasn’t lovable, but because she took up a lot of space in our bed, haha. But now, even though we’ve filled our home with additional pack members, the house feels so much emptier. She is such a big part of our life, home and family. And our hearts. Her exceptionally large presence really seems to make her absence even bigger.
We have a sing-song phrase we use with Coraline for naps and night-night time. It can be used for hello and goodbye, too. Monday, Jameson sang it to Sasha, singing “bye bye Sasha, bye bye Sasha, see you after school.” Knowing that she would not be home waiting for us in just a couple days while listening to him sing to her was the beginning of many hard moments. Another was watching Coraline, who has just started in the past few weeks to pull out Sasha’s treats on her own to go give to her. Yesterday morning, instead of a bye bye song, Coraline sang “Night night” to her.
Sasha reached the end of her life at the very old age of 12. She was, and is, the smartest dog I have ever met, a gentle giant with a sweet disposition as long as you don’t poke at her face, Coraline! Sasha loved rolling in the grass, sitting on couches, catching snowballs, eating cookies (the dog treat kind), and giving puppy kisses.
I’m sure you’re glad to be chasing bunny rabbits again.