Five Days Without My Baby

April 17, 2011

It’s been five days since my little boy Hercules crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Since then, there’s no one to wake me in the morning, so I sleep too much. I awaken tearful and my heart in pain without his dear touches on my face, “Mommy it’s time to get up”. There’s no one to interrupt me during the day to say, “Stop and let me love you”, so I just keep working and working. There’s no one to say, “Feed me, I’m hungry”, so I don’t realize that I’ve gone all day without eating as food doesn’t seem important. There’s no one to tell me to sit and watch TV so we can be together on the sofa, so I feel isolated in my aloneness. Hercules isn’t here to say, “Mommy, come to bed now. I want you to sleep with me”, so I stay up too late. And the cycle goes on. My life has a huge hole in it. I have to learn to manage my own life rather than have it managed by my love for this little angel that left me.

Hercules, when did it happen that you grew up from being such a little baby to getting so old and dying? Is this what it’s like to see children age? I’ve never had children so I’ve never had the experience of seeing children grow up. Hopefully, most parents don’t have to endure the passing of their own children. With pets, they just don’t live that long. But 17 years is close to 1/3 of my life. Hercules lived with me through the end of my marriage, through my divorce and through the years since. He’s weathered my trials and tribulations and he’s been a trooper through it all.

There were times when I wasn’t as patient as I should have been with his constant demand for attention. Sometimes, when I was working in my study, I would tell him, “Not now, Mommy has to work.” Isn’t this what parents do, thinking that there will be more time when they can be together?” There comes a point, when time runs out.

Last year when he lost a tooth I realized that the time just might be running out and I began to thank God every day for each additional day we had together. Every day I held my angel in my arms and told him how much I loved him. He knew every day how much he was loved until the dementia clouded his mind. Then I think he still knew somewhere inside. Even on the last day when he walked around in circles, he still wanted to be with me, have me hold him and so it was a good day. The final moments were good. He ate well and yet we both knew it was time for him to pass on.

As I sit here typing this note, I’m crying for my baby. But now he talks to me in my head. He tells me, “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m ok. Mommy, go out and play. I don’t want you to be sad. I have lots of friends here to play with. It’s a nice place. Please be happy. Enjoy your life. I will watch over you now as you did for me all those years. I love you Mommy. “

I love you too Hercules. I hope that God is looking out for you and keeping you in the light. You are a dear angel and I know that if it’s possible, you are looking out for me.


Final Farewell – Saying Good-bye to a Pet is so Very Hard

April 11, 2011

My darling angel Hercules was laid to rest Thursday April 7 at 2pm in a lovely garden ceremony near my home in Reston, VA. We chose his favorite play area, which we called his bunker, to bury his ashes. As I’m a minister, I conducted a full pet memorial program complete with music, saging the site, appropriate prayers, verses and those present offering remembrances of Hercules. He was held in high esteem by all who knew him as a very lovable guy. Even my coaching clients would often enjoy having him on their laps during sessions and stated that he improved their experience. His energy was wonderful. I know God was with us during the ceremony, as it was a most beautiful and warm day, with the days proceeding and after rainy and cold. How could it have been otherwise when one of God’s own angels is returned to him?

Hercules laid to rest

Hercules was brought to me by God in July, 1994 after I had prayed for cats to show up on my property to keep me company. My prior pet had died about five years prior and I was lonely for a companion. I only had to wait 4 months when these little babies showed up. Hercules got his name by being the first to come to me and allow my touch – so he was the brave one. His sister, Judas was the sneaky one. (She is still with me and I have to remember to give her extra love as she wonders where he’s gone.) So God brought Hercules to me as my little angel for 17 years, and as he was only a gift, he was returned to God on Tuesday April 5 at 4:25pm.

Hercules loved me unconditionally and I loved him in return; in fact, I had to love him enough to let him go. It was the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make. But let me say this. Now that I’m back in my logical mind, I realize that he was fighting to stay alive because he knew I was grieving. The signs of his severe deterioration were there, but I kept telling myself – just one more intervention and he’ll be ok. Eventually, I knew it was enough and together we made the decision over this past weekend. Somehow he knew, because Monday night he was more like his old self. He ate better, seemed more alert, and slept with me under the covers like he used to do prior to getting so sick. We had a very good last day.

Bless you Hercules. I couldn’t have loved you more and you couldn’t have loved me more. I learned never to let a day go by without telling you how much I loved you. I’m so glad that I did. You truly were a blessing, one that will remain in my heart all the days of my life.

Good-bye my angel. May God keep you safe in his divine light.


When it’s time for a pet to go

April 8, 2011

How much life is enough?

When deciding when to let a beloved pet go, one must consider their quality of life over one’s own feelings. This is an extremely difficult thing to do and a trial on which I was tested this past weekend.

For nearly two-months my dear cat Hercules was battling with chronic renal failure including anemia, dementia, possibly tumors and a host of other ailments. We would get one of his major issues under control and then another would pop up. He was on fluids for the renal failure which I learned to administer. Then his red blood cell count took a nose dive and thrice weekly shots were required. He needed four different medications twice daily and some natural remedies which I found to be helpful. All this I learned to deliver in as reasonable manner as possible, partly through trial and error. Which meds could be taken together and given in one syringe? Which ones tasted funny thus requiring a bit of ground up food be mixed in to camouflage the taste? I experimented until I had worked out a program that took about 2 hours in the morning and about 1.5 hours in the evening.

Hercules

I curtailed my own activities to make sure I was home in time to do the evening medical program, including having my birthday dinner at 4pm so that I could be available. I didn’t mind taking care of my little darling. After all, for nearly 17 years he’d given me love, companionship, and reminded me when it was time to go to bed and often woke me in the morning. “Mommy, get up and feed me.” “Mommy, pet me.” “Mommy put food in my bowl.” Often, I’ve hear him outside my home letting me know he wanted to come in and then he’d cry to tell me he wanted to go outside. He was a great communicator. Unfortunately, once he got sick, he lost his voice. Or perhaps, he was too weak to use it.

 When the time comes:

During one of our several emergency room visits, the attending veterinary technician gave me some advice. Having just put her dog down, she said in response to my question of, how do you know when it’s the right time? “When there are more bad days than good ones.”  Then she added, “Be sure to pick a good day.”  Her words kept ringing in my head. I was evaluating my pet’s life. Was his situation bad enough to end his life?

 When yet another crisis occurred over the weekend, I had to face the reality. The pattern of problems was a sign of the inevitable. It was like putting one’s finger in the dam. Eventually, it wouldn’t hold the flood of water back. Hercules loved me so much that he was stoically dealing with the needles, the meds being popped in my mouth, the forced feedings because he knew I was grieving. I was crying so much. I didn’t want to let go.

 There’s a sense among pet owners that one more intervention will get the pet over the mountain and on the other side with renewed strength and vigor. And, sometimes the new medicine or protocol does buy weeks or months of life. But for my Hercules, the non-stop care bought him 7 weeks of added life. However, I realized that he had no real quality in that life. Sure, he was alive. He could walk down the stairs, but no longer up (his heart wouldn’t take it). He could lie in the sun at the foot of the stairs, which he enjoyed. However, I had to watch him constantly or he would end up in the lower level just sitting on the bathroom mat since he couldn’t walk back up again. Sometimes he’d eat on his own, and sometimes I had to force him. He hated being force fed.

 Then there was the dementia. He could have a can of food sitting right in front of him and he wouldn’t realize it. I had to constantly put the food under his nose and then he would eat some. This meant that I had to be there or he wouldn’t eat. If I had to go out of the house for a few hours, it would be hours that he wasn’t eating. So my schedule totally revolved around him. When did he need his fluids? When did he need to eat? I didn’t mind caring for him, but it was limiting for me. He was my baby and I loved him. That said, I finally had to let go. God had given this little angel to me and it was time for me to love him enough to stand back and let him go to his peace.

 I had a talk with him over the weekend and we agreed. It would be Tuesday when his regular vet came back to the animal hospital. Somehow he must have known, since we had a wonderful day together. He ate more, seemed more like his old self and slept under the covers with me. But I agonized over the decision right up to the last moment. At the vet’s, I was crying horribly. Then a sense of calm came over me. Hercules and I knew it was the time. We both were ready. The vet gave him an anesthesia and within seconds he put his little head down and that was it. He was out. The vet told me he was ready. He was at peace.

 My little darling Hercules passed at 4:25 pm April 5. I stayed with him for about 20 minutes until I realized the body on the table was no longer Hercules. He was gone to Rainbow Bridge to wait for me. Upon coming home I I lit a candle to celebrate his life and said prayers. May God’s light shine on him forever. And so it is. Amen.

 Here is the poem about Rainbow Bridge:

There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth
It is called Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours

Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills, valleys with lush green grass

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this special place
There is always food and water and warm spring weather

The old and frail are young again
Those who are maimed are made whole again

They play all day with each other
There is only one thing missing

They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth
So each day they run and play until the day comes
when one suddenly stops playing and looks up !

The nose twitches !
The ears are up !
The eyes are staring !
And this one suddenly runs from the group !

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him or her into your arms and embrace
your face is kissed again and again,
and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated

Author Unknown


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