Our beloved dog died this morning while I was at work. It wasn’t unexpected, Dakota was 14 and had been sick for a while. Still a sad day in our house, especially for #3.
Despite the sadness, there is a silver lining…the death of the dog has provided some valuable life lessons for my kiddo.
Lesson 1 – life hurts sometimes
Life is an amazing journey, but sometimes it hurts. This is one of those times.
Lesson 2 – your mom will always be there
Sadly, I was at work when the dog died, but #3 called to tell me the news. And then burst into tears. I wanted nothing more than to give him a hug but I couldn’t right that minute. But it didn’t matter, I stopped what I was doing, I listened, I reassured him, and I promised him a big old hug when I get home.
It worked wonders.
lesson 3 – everything dies
Sadly, everything that lives also dies. As we’ve watched our dear old dog’s health decline, it’s prompted a number of conversations about death, dying and suffering. Heavy topics for a nine year old (or a 99 year old), but really good conversations with #3 where he can explore his thoughts, feelings and questions about a topic that we all find hard to talk about.
Lesson 4 – Death can be a blessing
As we watched our beloved puppy lay around, clearly not feeling well, #3 turned to me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to watch Dakota die, but I think it would be better if he did.”
Wow – a pretty damn profound thing to say as a nine year old.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
lesson 5 – life goes on
Yes, today is a sad day. And it will be sad, not just today, but tomorrow, and the next day and the next day after that. But, the sun will rise tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day after that. And it will get less sad.
At dinner tonight we’ll talk about Dakota; we’ll laugh, we’ll cry, but most importantly we’ll remember. And those stories we’ll tell about Dakota, those memories, are memories we’ll have forever with or without him sitting under the table begging for a scrap of food. And life will go on.
it’s not just about the dog
Not only has this process provided #3 with some valuable life lessons, it’s also provided fodder for some pretty interesting conversations between us. These conversations have allowed him to explore his beliefs – who knew that he was a firm believer in reincarnation!??!!?
And these conversations have translated to larger, harder conversations, conversations about Grandad. You see, my Dad is dying; he’s been battling stage IV colon cancer for more than five years and he’s been in hospice care since March, every day a blessing for us…
I’m not always sure for him.
As we’ve been talking about Dakota, I’ve realized, our talks aren’t just about a dog, but a safe way to talk about what’s going on with Grandad. A much more difficult conversation.
So Dakota, thank you. Thank you for being a great dog all of these years. But more importantly, thank you for teaching us all about life and death and maybe, just maybe, making the eventuality of what’s to come with my Dad just a little easier to talk about with the boys.