Sunday, July 17, 2005

Our friend

In Memory of Satchmo
February 14, 1994-July 12, 2005

What a tough week this has been. We miss him more than we can possibly express. He was a force to be reckoned with! There was no doubt about his presence on this earth, just with the sheer frequency of his barking! It is that trait that makes his absence that much more profound. Even with a toddler in the house, it is deafeningly quiet. I still find myself bracing for the shrill barking that is to come when either of us walks in the door. That silence is tough. Each little part of the day that was his is another reminder that he's gone. Getting him up in the morning- he had to be picked up, or at the very least given a sufficient scratch on the back or he would refuse to go outside. More often than not, when one of us would pass him trying to sleep, we'd bend down and give him a little scratch. I never realized that I pretty much always did this after getting Dillon down for a nap. The first night we didn't put him to bed was devastating. I've never seen a dog get so excited to go to bed- but only if he was tired. He was our friend through many life changes. He disagreed on things that we thought were good ideas-- getting another dog, moving somewhere with 50 degree below zero wind chills, having a baby, then moving to somewhere in which the snow was deeper than he was tall- the list goes on. Sometimes he won, sometimes not. He did learn to deal with having the baby around, but not for a while. For as crazy as he made us at times, he could also be the most sweet, loving dog you've ever met. We loved him a great deal and his loss has affected us deeply.

For her part, Dillon is trying to figure it out. She went to the vet with us. She saw the vet examine him and then him with the oxygen mask on and the IV in before Dave brought she & I home for her to go to bed. She knew something was wrong and hiding it from her wouldn't have been fair. While she didn't know that's what she was doing, she got to pet him goodbye too. The next morning I just gave her the simple explanation that Satchmo didn't get better and wasn't going to be at our house anymore. Mostly she gave me hugs when I cried and told her that I was sad because I missed Satchmo. There have been lots of hugs and I love you's all week for Dave & I both. She's asked several questions since then. We've told her that Satchmo died and what that means in concrete terms- he isn't breathing, he won't play with her anymore, he doesn't eat anymore. She'll seem to get it, then will make a comment sometime later about wanting to see Satchmo or that the doctor or daddy or momma will make him feel better. We've tried to keep it very simple and just follow her lead. Neither of us have hidden being sad about him and have just answered questions as they've come up. For now, we're not going to even make an attempt at explaining his ashes. I'm going to try to go by the vet's to pick them up tomorrow without her. Based on some of her comments this week, she thinks he's still there.

Tonight, Dave's on call and Courtney is in town. She asked if she could come get Dillon for a little while this evening. One of the tough things about this week is the difficulty in just being able to grieve the loss of our friend. Dillon's needs have not changed, and really have only increased with her trying to figure this out as well. Everything is so interrupted when taking care of a young child. By no means is that a complaint, but it is much tougher to just take care of your own need to just grieve when her needs are so great. So, I've ended up with some time all to myself tonight. I spent some time at the bookstore- something I truly miss from pre-child days- then came home. It gave me enough time to switch gears out of caregiving mode and be able to sit and cry a bit, uninterrupted. I had been wanting to make this post because writing always helps me, but wanted to do it, again, uninterrupted.

The support of friends and family has made this week a little more bearable. We've gotten either phone calls, emails or cards each day since he died. It doesn't make us miss him any less, but does help us feel less alone. I still can't believe he's gone and I still find myself wanting to say things to him- "here satchmo, I dropped a piece of food," "come on buddy" when we come in from outside. Then there's the toughest one of all- 'Goodnight, Satchmo, sleep well."

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