When a person we care about loses a loved one — spouse, parent, pet — our own hearts ache for that loss. They tend to feel as if they’re missing a beat or a piece, or that someone with very strong hands is wringing them out. We can’t quite catch our breath, especially if we, too, knew and loved the one who has died.
Such a loss flashes us back to a time we experienced that very same sort, and we feel the pain as fresh as if it happened yesterday, even though the loss may have been years ago.
This past week, two dear friends had to make the decision to put their beautiful greyhound to sleep. Jezebel was 14 and had been part of their family for a decade. She and her adopted sister Delilah (who passed away a year or so ago) were my friends’ first greyhounds. Between the bookends of Jezebel’s life were dozens more precious pooches. Through the years, some were adopted by loving families; others died. All were beloved…but there’s just something about the first.
Jezebel was, I guess, my first, too: the first greyhound I took for a walk, the first I touched, the first I loved. She had a contagious smile, and probably the softest coat of any dog I’ve ever known.
I came home after telling her goodbye, from burrowing my fingers into her fur for that last time, and found myself crying all over again — for Jezebel, and also for our sweet little Sally, my son Charlie’s first dog, who died eight years ago. Sally was one of the litter born to my parents’ dog Annie, a pregnant young lady when Mom and Dad adopted her at a flea market not long after they had moved to the country.
When Annie’s puppies were ready for a new home, we let Charlie choose one. I’m a sucker for a black and white dog, so was leaning toward Annie’s spotted offspring. But Charlie was adamant: He wanted the black one.
He named her Sally, the name of Spot the dog’s mother in one of his favorite childhood book series. Charlie and Sally grew up together. Juan, Charlie’s dad, took them on walks together until Charlie got too big for a stroller. The summer after Charlie finished ninth grade, Sally just wore out.
When Jezebel died last week, I went back and read the blog post I had written when Sally died. Turns out it was almost exactly eight years to that very day. Please click here to read it.
I cried then and, to be quite honest, am crying now. Jezebel’s death hurts, and Sally’s does all over again. Though maybe (tough as it is to say this) to have loved that fiercely and that eternally is a bittersweet blessing in itself.
So for hearts that are battered but still keep beating…for tears of remembrance…for Sally and Jezebel and all those whose loss may shatter us but whose love keeps us whole…The Grateful Runner says thank you.