Sunday, September 19, 2010
Bear Midnight Miller
"Also the animals possess a soul, and men must love and feel solidarity with our smaller brethren."
Pope John Paul II
“Bear is going to Puppy Heaven today,” I told my four-year-old daughter on Friday, “She will be able to go play with all our bunnies who are there - Hoppity, Peach, and Lucky.” She seemed to understand. She had watched me change bandages on her bleeding paws and carry her around because she was no longer able to walk, and she knew Bear was old and sick.
Bear, who has been in perfect health all thirteen years of her happy life, had a sudden decline over the past two weeks. Her had stopped eating and breathing was so poor that we knew her time was imminent.
“I can’t stand to see her suffer any more,” my husband said, and so we arranged to have a traveling veterinarian come to our house that evening at 7:30 PM, when we could have the whole family together. Still I hoped for a natural death for my gentle friend.
I carried her outside for some sunshine. At around noon, I went out and blessed her with holy water. “Please Jesus, take her home to be with you. St. Francis of Assissi, please help her.”
Although I had bathed her two days before, her smell was attracting flies, so I brought her in to the kitchen. I cleaned the house, put out freshly cut flowers and lit candles, to make the atmosphere peaceful for that evening.
Two of the children came home at 3:35. I explained to them what we planned to do and why. They were a little upset. At 3:40 I went outside to push my little one on the swings. At 3:45 I heard a yelp and the water bowl crash. I ran inside and saw that she had passed, her head on her paw.
I called the children and when they all met in the kitchen at once, they all started to howl. I tried to hug them all at once, and moved them into the living room. We stayed there for about 20 minutes and then moved outside to the deck. I was surprised that they were able to enjoy a goldfish snack, and actually play a little game with the goldfish crackers.
We had to pick up my older daughter from cross country at the high school. I warned them not to say anything to her until we got home. I didn’t want to cause a scene in front of the school or even in front of my house.
She came out of the school looking very happy. “I had a great day!” she declared.
Her sister and I exchanged looks when she was putting her stuff into the trunk.
We got home and I said we needed to go around back. I wanted to tell her in the back yard before going into the house.
Later she would say that she always knows what is coming when I tell them to sit down. We had gone through this with the bunnies.
“Come here,” I said, as I put my arms around her.
“Is it Bear?”
She looked at the other kids and knew. It was even worse for her. We had gotten Bear as a two-month-old puppy when she was a two-month-old newborn, and we celebrated their birthdays together.
Coming home to no dog was hard. . .
On Sunday morning I dreamt that Bear was playing with Alamo, the golden retriever of my childhood. I woke to the sound of giggling girls. I knew we were going to be okay. I went to Michael’s to purchase a garden stone kit. Together we made a garden stone for Bear, and planted mums around her grave.
"All things bright and beautiful,
all creatures great and small,
all things wise and wonderful:
the Lord God made them all."
Cecil F. Alexander"