Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On Living a Life of Loss and Love ...

We foster for an animal rescue and that means, for us anyhow, we deal with more deaths of those we love than many. Palliative fosters, sick kittens, elderly animals -all a part of the family - and most a part of our hearts have died. Fostering is, in and of itself an exercise in loss,even sending a foster to a loving forever home is often bittersweet. We have a tiny family but cancer has been very cruel to those closest to us, taking 7 immediate family members since we have been adults. Add a few other deaths of people near and dear to us and I have become pretty experienced at grief.

Little Wyn was in one of those fluke accidents you hope will never happen to you or one you love.

He and Sally were playing a riotous game of chase on the lawn while I did morning chores. I watched them and appreciated the fun they were having; stepped inside with the small dogs to get warm water for the chickens, stepped out and Sally was at the door-quite frantic. I let her in then hustled around the corner to see what had happened. A neighbour was waiting for me.

"I'm sorry. I hit your dog."


"I saw them playing, I should have slowed down, the kids distracted me."

"It's OK." (Yah, that was my first and ongoing reaction: grief is strange)

"I'm pretty sure he's gone."

I ran to him and she was right. Why he, a 40+ pound dog died when much smaller dogs survive I will never know. One second in time spent differently on so many people's parts and he would not have have even been clipped. All he was doing was a big goofy puppy circle RIGHT at the end of the driveway. As far as I could tell he wasn't even fully in the road. He was killed instantly. I suppose he broke his neck? He bit his tongue and there was a tiny bit of blood from that. (You all know how much mouth wounds bleed).

The outpouring of love for Wyn has staggered me.  From Switzerland, England, New Zealand, all over Canada, and the States, people have reached out in this, the busiest time of year, to offer what comfort they can, to cry and celebrate and do all the things one does in tragic times. People from all of my worlds, and complete strangers, have collided in grief. This funny outgoing little puppy has had more tears shed for him then I can imagine.

Grief is a funny thing. It has pushed some of Wyn's crew to great faith. God must have needed a puppy for Christmas. And others away. Why? How is this possible after seeing you with him? Both approaches offer us consolation. People are being so generous and trying so hard to right this terrible wrong.

From the nearly inarticulate words of some "I'm so sorry", " I don't know what to say", "Please tell me it isn't true" to some beautiful passages shared

“We who choose to surround ourselves

with lives even more temporary than our
own, live within a fragile circle;
easily and often breached.
Unable to accept its awful gaps,
we would still live no other way.
We cherish memory as the only
certain immortality, never fully
understanding the necessary plan.” 
― Irving Townsend

To beautiful memories and words shared:

I had a special place in my heart for this boy!! 

A short life, but a very rich one.
I have followed the wonderful life of Wyn from the very beginning, and I watched him grow from a teeny little guy, into the most handsome boy!! 
He has a very special story and his special story was told by you with such love that it made everyone fall in love with him.
To love is better than never experiencing love. Wynn loved you, adored you from the moment you rescued him.
You welcomed everyone to love him.
Wyn wanted for nothing...right from the start. 
What a lucky boy he was... Although his life was short, it sure was fun!
He took a great big bite of life and leaves paw prints on our hearts.
We just never know when our loved ones time is up and I believe you always knew that and you enjoy and cherish your days.
Wyn was a wonderful gift and a breath of fresh air and he will be missed by everyone.
Godspeed little man.

To this, from communications specialist, author and Wyn's other mother, Kathryn Harvey: 

Every once in a while, somebody comes into your life and ends up not being able to stay very long. But for those who know how to live right, more joy and love can be packed into a short visit than can be experienced in a thousand years of going through the motions. From being bottle-fed every couple of hours to demonstrating impressive skills in scent detection, Wyn lived a concentrated life. His enthusiasm was infectious, his pure evil sweetness unforgettable. And his luck in finding Andrea and Tom, well, that was just about the best part of all. If you're not going to be around for a long time, make sure you're in the best possible company. Wyn did, and we're all the richer to have been able to share in his story.

Perhaps as someone suggested today it's because our inn was so over full with him that fostering was out of the question and there is someone in need of us.

No beautiful boy today, today I'm missing you - and all those who have gone before you- an awful lot. But I'll be OK. More OK for having had the chance to love you than I would have been without you. Thanks for asking, and thanks for being you. Grief extends my empathy and compassion. Grief sucks and while I wish I never had to experience it again I know it has shaped me and for that I must be grateful. 

Will we open ourselves up to this sort of grief again? Not today, not tomorrow (I so so hope!), but inevitably yes. We will. Because that's the way we roll. 

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