A few weeks ago, my wife and I were charged with the unenviable task of putting one of our pets down due to a variety of illnesses associated with age. Mister Fleischman had been a member of the family for nearly two decades and his departure will leave a hole in the family dynamic for a while. While I’ll miss my buddy, the point of this blog is not to bid adieu to my amigo.
In addition to the task of helping Fleischman on his way, we also had to have a discussion with the girls that this would be happening. The reaction of each was more different than could have been expected. We sat on the couch and let the girls know that we had news. Macy sat on my wife’s lap as she would be taking it the hardest, Avery sat next to her and Darby, our youngest, bounced from my lap to the floor to the dog to my lap. We explained to the girls that the vet had informed us that Fleischman was very ill and wouldn’t make it more than a couple of weeks and that they should make his life as great as possible with the time he had left. The reaction was varied to say the least.
DARBY- age 4 Noticed for a moment that her sisters were crying. This confused her because the dog was wiggling around on his back and wearing a huge smile. He seemed to be begging for a “frog splash” from her and she obliged. She dove on his belly and he jumped up and dashed out of the room. Not to be outdone she chased after him. I’m sure her sisters envied her innocence for at least a moment.
MACY – Age 5 She is our “horse whisperer”. Since she was born she has had some communion with animals. It is one of the prettiest things you will see. She is delicate and sweet with every animal she comes across. Generally speaking, it serves her well, that day, not so much. She was shattered. I watched my daughter cry in a way that I hadn’t seen before. When she experienced loss in the past, she had questions. In the past she had been too young to comprehend the depth of what was happening. She wasn’t too young that morning. She knew what it meant and it hurt. The sound that came out of her cut deep. It made me wish we never had pets. Her reaction was what we expected and more.
AVERY – Age 8 I guess the best sentiment towards her reaction would be “caring but practical”. She wailed the same way as Macy did. Her eyes were red and tears streamed. We all hugged and tried to dry tears to varying degrees of success. As the situation began to calm, Avery sputtered, “Does that mean we can get a kitten?”. Opportunistic, sure. Appropriate, probably not. Successful, not in the least. She should have realized that seeing Macy in her condition made me feel that I should never buy them a pet again. Nice try anyway, sweetheart.
The lesson for the girls is this. It may feel like you can love too much. You may even envy someone who doesn’t seem to feel as deeply or hurt as much. Truth be told, losing someone close to you is the worst thing that can happen. It hurts in ways you don’t even understand. But here’s the catch. It hurts that way because of the love you put into it and the love you got back. The fact is that the kinder you are, the better you treat people (and animals), the more you will feel this and here’s the part that is hard to grasp: it’s totally worth it. So love like you always have regardless of the consequences and no, you can’t have a kitten.
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