I don't think that there is ever an easy way to deal with death. I was thinking about it earlier today; is a prolonged death easier to deal with or a sudden death. And, though I think that with a prolonged death you have the ability to say goodbye over time. You have the ability to celebrate the life that is slowly fading and you have the ability to cherish the small things, whereas I think that with a sudden death you are robbed of all of that, neither is easier to deal with. Death, all around, just sucks. Yes, I know that it's a part of life and inevitable. It's not easy, though, at all. There is never enough time in either situation for one more hug or one more chance to speak words of love.
Dave and I got our first cat in 2001 when we were living in a single wide trailer. He was taking a Chinese history class and was compelled to name the cat Hoarse after some emperor or warrior or something (I've never taken a Chinese history class and don't feel the need to even Google any of this to confirm it). Anyway, Hoarse the cat came to live with us and was a spoiled, fat runt.
Affectionately called "Kitty", she spent much time stretched out in various places to bask in sunlight.
|Kitty with Cody, Chris & Will|
We got Slayer on Halloween of 2009. My husband and middle son went to get her. She was a fluffy ball of black fur with huge paws and lots of energy.
|Graduating Obedience Class|
|Will feeding her|
|When we first got her|
|Sitting pretty while a sandwich was being stacked on her nose|
I remember her slipping from her collar on the lead in our back yard in Tinley Park and having to walk the neighborhood yelling "SLAYER!" I remember how she would lay in front of the front door, rolled over on her back, acting like a draft dodger.
How the fur on the top of her back would raise up as she barked when a questionable person came too close to any of us. How she would pull Cody on his roller blades as he walked her every morning before school. How she would run circles around the kids, trying to herd them close to her for protection. How proud she was when she killed her first bunny, after chasing them around our yard for over 2 years. She paraded that thing up to Dave and the boys while they were putting up Halloween decorations outside. And, Dave describing the conflict he felt when he saw her "Good girl. Boys go inside now. Good girl, drop it. Boys, inside. Such a good girl." And she sat there all proud and beaming.
I felt safe with her in the house. I felt safe leaving the house with the boys in it because of her. I remember a few months ago when a man came to our front door and rang the doorbell. We have huge picture windows that look over our front stoop, and she ran up to the window closest to the door and started barking and snarling and sure enough, the fur on her back was sticking up. I took her and put her in the room closest to the front door and shut the door to the room. Opening the front door to see what the man wanted he asked "Which is suppose to scare me more? This (pointing to my NRA sticker on my front door) or your dog?" My answer? "Both".
She was very much like Nana from Peter Pan.
|Giving Will kisses|
She would sleep on the landing of our staircase, guarding the boys as they slept at night. She would stay in whatever room all three of our boys were in and watched over them. She didn't like it when one of them went out to play, and would sit by the front picture windows waiting for them to come home.
|Slayer's 1st Birthday, celebrated with a peanut butter filled Kong Ball.|
She would greet us at the door when we returned home, if we all went out together. And she would always appear in the picture window when I pulled into the driveway with my van and would watch me come into the house.
We would jokingly call her the Snow Princess, because my god did she love the snow. She would nudge her nose into it and flip it over her back. She would roll around and wiggle in it. She would chase the boys and catch their snowballs as they threw them back and forth.
When you would walk into a room that she was in, if she was laying on the floor she would roll over on her back wanting you to rub her belly.
If you were sitting in a chair and had your legs crossed, she would walk up to you so that you crossed legs foot was under her belly so you could rub it.
|Cutting down our Christmas Tree|
|Hiking with the boys|
And, on Friday, January 22nd we lost the ability to get one more of any of those. And I swear, I have not cried like I did that day. I have never dealt with a loss like this. One so sudden, one where a constant daily companion was taken away so quickly. And, I've had those irrational thoughts that go with the grieving process. Like, I can't live in this house anymore. Like, I hate the sound of the trains. Like, I can't sleep until I clean the rail road tracks. Like, being woken up by what I swear is the sound of her dog tags jingling. Like, pulling up into the driveway, parking my van and looking up into the picture window and feeling a void when I don't see her looking out it at me. Like, I didn't take enough photos of her.
Today was tough. Today was the first day that I left the house and returned to it completely empty. I knew when I was leaving that I needed to change my routine. I checked all of the doors to make sure that all of the locks were locked. I turned off the TV. For the first time since I moved into this house I dead-bolted the front door.
We got rid of most of her things on Friday. Her food and water bowls. What was left of her food. Her blue "egg" and balls. He brushes and harness and leash. We have not taken down her cage yet. I can't do it. Not yet.
This sudden death thing sucks. It's also made me think, in those rare moments when I haven't been lost in disconnected thought while staring out the picture window towards the rail road tracks. Or in sudden and overwhelming crying fits. I think that what I'm learning from this is that it really is true, that I only have today. That those closest to me should know how much I love them and how awesome they are and that I should hug them a little longer. Because, I just don't know. I don't know what tomorrow will bring and I should appreciate the blessings that I have in my life right now, this moment. Thank you, Slayer, for teaching me this. Though, I truly would give anything to have you here.
She was such a good girl and she will be so very missed.