by Laura A. Garren
I just lost my best friend. My 10-year old dog Scamp sickened suddenly and died the next day, despite extreme veterinary intervention. The cause turned out to be a ruptured gall bladder secondary to cancer, which had spread to her lungs. She had shown no signs until the day of the crisis; she ate her breakfast, but then just didn’t seem well, so we went to the vet. She died the next evening.
While I am hurting so very much over her death, and I miss her terribly, I have noticed a change in myself during this grief process. In the past, when I have lost a loved one—human or animal—I was practically incapacitated. Somehow, I have been able, this time, to view my loss from a different perspective. I feel sad, and experience an occasional gust of tears; but I am not beating my breast and cursing the universe for depriving me of my dog. Instead, I realize that Scamp was a gift. I don’t know what I did to deserve her, but I will be forever thankful that she was in my life for 10 years, which now seem so brief.
As I have been processing my loss, I have looked back on others and been able to reframe them. My father died when I was 19, and for years, for decades, I felt angry and cheated. I still fight those feelings, but I tell myself I was fortunate beyond imagining to have had such a good Daddy, which he was. I lost my beloved dog, Sufi, who died suddenly of a cancer-induced illness at the age of four in 2004. Because of her youth, I was especially traumatized, and raged against the unfairness of her death. Now I see that I was so very lucky to have had Sufi—one of the sweetest dogs I ever met—even for so brief a time.
I have lost many other family members and friends, human and animal. I look back on them all now with love and gratitude for having been in my life. I like to imagine them all together somewhere, waiting for me. I’m not sure I believe in an afterlife, but I like to think that when I die, the first face I see will be the impish little face of my beloved Scampie.