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And Then There Was One

Once upon a time, there were four fur babies.

They made AuburnChick and her Mr. a little crazy but a lot happy.

Fast forward twelve and a half years, and the four have become one.

This has made AuburnChick and her Mr. very sad people.

The day they lost Pele, they left for a little getaway that had been six months in the planning.

They set aside their grief the best they could and made memories with their loved ones.

Oh, y’all, how I wish this was a story from a book. The reality, however, is very sorrowful and oh too real.

This story is one that is currently being written – slowly and painfully.

The Mr. and I returned from our trip Saturday evening. I started crying as we made the last few turns; the knowledge of what was ahead weighed heavily on my heart.

We knew that coming home would be tough.

Instead of two fur babies greeting us at the door, there was only one.

Granted, he was a cutie and beside himself with joy and relief.

While we had been able to delay our grief, he had been at home with a stranger (a sweet young lady but still new to him) and confused about where his big brother was. Our sitter texted me a picture of him and told me that he’d been keeping an eye on the front door.

Poor guy.

His audible greeting – something rare for him – let us know just how happy he was to see us.

I think we spent that first evening in a daze. The house was too quiet.

We were all in mourning; the weight of it so very, very heavy.

Gambit was unsure of the new dynamics.

Normally, his big brother would be vying for space on the bed. Instead, it was just Gambit. We both felt like a piece of ourselves was missing.

We slept twelve hours, and I’ll just go ahead and say that I felt no guilt about missing church. My body and mind desperately needed the rest. Besides that, I would have been a blubbering mess.

I can’t remember much of what we did on Sunday. I believe we went to Sam’s Club. I ran into a former student I hadn’t seen in a couple of years. I’m sure I seemed aloof, but the truth was that I was extremely emotional and barely able to focus. The priority was getting a few needed items and returning home to Gambit.

I don’t remember anything else about the day.

The week, in fact, ran pretty much the same way.

It might seem silly to people who aren’t animal lovers, but losing a beloved pet is hard on the heart.

Pele’s absence has left a huge void in our lives.

Everything in the house reminds me of him.

One of the first things I did was move one of his dog beds to the den. We had five of them in the house. Yes, for two dogs. I threw away one dog bed because Pele had either gotten sick on it or had a bit of an accident. That still left four.

Then, there was the crate, which was beside the TV. Pele loved his crate. It was his safe place – his spot when he wanted alone time away from Gambit, who was known to sneak snuggle.

I folded it up and put it away, not sure if we will need it in the future. I couldn’t deal with the dog bed. It had so much of Pele’s hair and smelled like him. Smell is such a powerful sense and brings back so many memories.

For two years, we’d had double of everything: water bowls, dog food dishes, and leashes. When I took Gambit to get his nails clipped this week, I teared up as I reached for his leash. I still can’t bring myself to do anything with the extra one. Maybe one day, but not yet.

Gambit was so excited to go for a car ride, and my heart broke a little. Pele loved to ride too. I was used to seeing two puppy faces in the rear view mirror. I only saw one that day.

I wound up taking Gambit to PetSmart for his nails even though the vet’s office was a little closer. I just can’t go there yet; the pain is so raw.

The Mr. and I still find ourselves talking about the “dogs” this and the “dogs” that. I’m not sure how we will move from using plural nouns to a singular one when referring to the one who’s left.

I’ve spent the week cleaning; it’s what I do when I’m in the middle of flux. As I walked from one room to another, I saw this . . .

The Roomba had already run more than once, so finding a tuft of Pele’s tail hair poured salt in the wound. I broke down and told the Mr. that the day my vacuum stops picking up Pele’s hair is the day I’m going to cry bucketloads. I’m afraid of losing all evidence that Pele was a member of our family for so long. I remember feeling this way with Molly too. The Mr. reminded me that we have a lot of pictures to remember him by.

And so I’m plodding through this muck that is life at the moment.

It’s slow going, and if I’m completely honest, I’m not too happy at the moment.

Watching my sweet Gambit struggle is hard. He’s too little for the two beds we have left.

I’m just glad that we have a buffer between losing Pele and school starting back up to get our bearings again.

I’ve been fond of saying that I’m finding joy in the journey, whatever that may be.

Well, I’m not joyful in the moment. To say otherwise would be a lie.

I do know, though, that God’s got me – that He’s ministering to me through family and friends – that He will continue to comfort me when I suddenly feel weepy.

No, I will not allow myself to wallow too long in the sad, but for now, I will embrace it for just a little while until the wound of my broken heart has healed a bit.

Just as Gambit, the last one left, likes to lift his nose in the wind, so I’ll trust that God will lift my spirits in His perfect time.

2 Responses

  1. So sorry for your loss. I hope writing these last 2 posts have helped you even if only in a small way. Facing up to and acknowledging grief is an important step.

  2. It’s crazy how different a home is when a fur baby leaves us – the dynamics totally change. … & this is why I always use the argument that we NEED at least 3 dogs at all times so there’s not a dog alone when another one passes away. It’s an adjustment for everyone – even fur brothers & sisters….
    Yep – keep those crates & everything you can. it’s funny how we’ve used the crate we’re using now for Bruno as an old man was the crate we used as Ernie as a puppy – & the things we used for Sydney & Buffy in their old age now is helping Bruno… when you have a home made for animals, keep using it all over again to help the next generation 🙂
    I have a feeling you’ll have more dogs too that will use blankets & beds & bowls & they can carry on the love of your sweet babies that have moved onto their next running spot 🙂

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