Consider this my emotional purge to help me move forward. I have debated extensively on whether or not to even post something so intensely personal, but in the end I felt so much better after sharing my birth story, I am hoping the same will come from doing this.
We agnostics get to be a bit greedy when it comes to death and the afterlife. We can entertain fantasies of any number of possibilities of what happens to our loved ones when they are no longer with us.
Maybe Charlotte's little spirit is being reborn into another puppy right now,
eagerly awaiting us to scoop it up and give it a home. I can picture Charlotte's version of doggy heaven. The streets are paved with peanut butter. There's an ice dispenser on every corner. Lakes and swimming pools as far as the eye can see. There's always an arm with a tennis ball ready to throw.
My scientific mind tends to lean more on the law of conservation of energy: when Charlotte died, all that energy and spirit had to go somewhere. My husband swears he wakes up in the middle of the night and can still here her haunting our house. Or, and here's my favorite fantasy, Charlotte gave a piece of herself to my human baby. Daphne's earliest weeks on this earth were not so easy or pleasant for her; everything was drama and screaming terror. Charlotte spent every night at the foot of our bed with her head leaning into Daphne's crib just staring at her. Was Charlotte not just watching over her, but somehow imprinting part of herself? Right around the time Daphne started getting better, that was when we took Charlotte to the vet for what we thought was an infected bug bite (turned out to be the first of many, many tumors). My tiny, terrified kid has become one of the most upbeat, playful, and adventurous babies that I've ever seen. Is this Charlotte's last gift to us? Her way of living forever?
Yes, my greedy little heart can entertain all these possibilities, but I don't really BELIEVE any of them. What do I KNOW? I know that my little furbaby will never again chase after a tennis ball, or lick up Daphne's spit up off the floor as though it was the best treat ever. I know that Charlotte will not be at the foot of Daphne's chair at the dinner table for her to sneak pieces of broccoli off her plate. I know I will never again wake up to have my legs trapped by her furry self snuggled between them. I know that we were robbed of the year that most people get with their dogs after a cancer diagnosis. I know 3 months was not enough time, but I also know that 30 years wouldn't have been enough, either.
Daphne was there with us when we said goodbye. In those last moments, I watched my daughter reach out and run her tiny fingers and toes through Charlotte's fur in a more purposeful and gentle way than she ever had before. I KNOW this is the last memory I want to have of my dog. I do not regret being there for her at the end, she deserved that from me, but If i could purge every moment that followed my daughter petting her that last time I would. I KNOW I don't want to remember how she felt sedated in my arms, how the IV looked trailing from her tiny paw, the vet injecting one- then two vials, the vet's stethoscope counting the last beats of her tiny heart. I definitely KNOW I would be better off without the memory of those two horrible words coming out of the doctor's mouth, or how I curled myself around Charlotte's still warm body in the corner and choked on the air in my lungs with my face buried in her fur. Poof! Begone horrible memory from my head!
Anyone who opens their hearts to a dog knows how this story ends. Yet I also KNOW that I will do it again. Because there is room in our hearts and our home to share. Because they ask so little, and we get so much from them in return. Hug your families, today and everyday.