I have always been told that one should keep depressing things out of your comic blog, and I strive to do so. I rarely let you look in on the reality of who I am. I would appreciate, however, if I could take my mask off for just a moment, and tell you this story, so I can work through my grief in the only way I know how. If you choose to read no further I don’t blame you. I avoid this sort of thing too, when I’m surfing around, and I expect no more of you than I do of myself. I grieve very hard, and with equal measure for any loved one, animal or human. I hope you all will bear with me, until I can move on. Today you will all be treated as my dearest friends, and let in for a moment.
Our last family dog, Sadie, passed away Monday. I stayed with her at night and Mom watched her in the daytime. Neither of us has had any real rest for a few days, but we didn’t want her to die alone in the yard. Every day she seemed like she wouldn’t last the night, but I watched the sun rise with her twice more. I fell asleep briefly Monday morning. When I woke up my sister just happened to call on the phone and I spoke to her a little while. I could see Sadie, keeping an eye on Mom, out in the yard like she always did. Mom came inside and Sadie slowly tried to follow. Mom helped her in the doggie door, and she waged her tail when she saw me, which she hadn’t done for two days. She fell over once she got to the bathroom door. She was clearly exhausted, but she looked up at me and around the area, then made like she wanted to get up and couldn’t. So I helped her stand, and she staggered back to the back door, which I opened because she couldn’t manage the doge gate. She took a few steps onto the cool concrete and fell over again. Mom had ended the call with my sister and sat down next to her. Sadie let out a few more hard breaths, then slipped away for the last time. We petted her and wept till Dad got home a few minutes later. He gave her a few last pats, and said his goodbyes, then the man who raised me, toughest man I have ever, or will ever, know dug her a grave. The evidence of tears were there when we committed her body to the earth.
We all spent the rest of the day distracting ourselves in our own ways. Almost everything I do is somehow connected to Sadie. Not just big things, but the little stuff I never thought about. Like siting my empty salad bowl on the floor so she could lick it, getting enough jerky from the bag so I can give her some, buying dog food at the store, or having her sleep next to me while I work on comics. I struggled against sleep till the small hours of the morning. A few good friends kept me company over the internet till I finally had to try and rest. I slept in little spurts. Every so often I would hear her scratch on the bedroom door, hop out of bed like a robot to let her come in, and she wouldn’t be there. She had me trained well enough I could do it in my sleep. I watched her die right in front of me, but some part of my mind would not accept that the silence was real.
I finally fell fully asleep at some time after sunrise. Those of you reading this most likely already know about the very vivid dreams I have. I found myself in one where Mom, Claws (our cat), Sadie, and I had to get to the basement to take shelter from a storm. Sadie warned us, like she always did when the weather turned bad, and we all made it there safely. She was young. In her prime. Pacing around like the little dark queen she was. Making sure we were all accounted for.
I was startled out of sleep. There was an appointment I had to make in another town. The dream was still fresh in my mind as I quickly came to terms with being awake, trying to get ready to roll out. As I combed my hair, memories of a young Sadie washed over me, and I fell apart like sand struck by surf. The dog who has guarded my family for me when I couldn’t be there to do it myself, is gone. She watched over us with all her heart, and our hearts will feel her absence for a long time.
Goodbyes are the debts we pay at the end of a journey. The more grand the journey, the deeper the debt.
Our journey with Sadie was glorious.
My sister left this comment, and I think it deserves to be in the main post:
As my dear brother so pointedly reminded me on Monday right before Sadie passed… “you know she was your dog.” I chose Sadie (and Kit) for our family. My boyfriend (now husband) named the little black bunch of wrinkles “Sadie” for us. He took one look at her and just knew that Sadie was the perfect name. I on-the-other-hand, wanted to name her Precious. I have to say that Sadie suited her through and through…no “Precious” was she.
Stubborn, opinionated and fiercely independent was my Sadie. I have always liked a girl with spunk and she was full of it! She was also loving and sweet to our family and the last time I saw her about four years ago, she remembered me like I had never left home.
I also remember when Mom and I brought Sadie home from the pet store and I hid her in my room. Mom was pretty sure Dad was going to be a little annoyed that we had brought home yet another dog. I remember him shaking his head when he met Sadie.
One of my all-time favorite pictures is of me in my BoSox hat and Airwalks, holding baby Sadie in our backyard.
I grieve like our father, quietly to myself, about the dog who always represented home for our family.