On Death: Family, Dogs and Computers

My grandfather: Earl P.

My grandfather: Earl P.

Last summer, Jackson started asking questions about death and dying. I’m told it is typical for children his age to wonder about such things. Normal or not, it’s really uncomfortable. I don’t much enjoy chatting about the subject.

While I’m not encumbered with things like “truth” or “fairness” when it comes to getting him to brush his teeth or behaving during December so Santa will make an appearance, this is not a subject I take lightly. I tell him he is a soul. His soul is housed in a body. One day, his body will wear out and die. That’s when his soul will go to Heaven.

That is how I understand the world. But I don’t really understand all of it because no one can. It’s even harder when you’re seven. So he asks about cemeteries and graves and where my grandfather was buried. Granddad Jackson is the only person he really knew, who died. When there was a death in our school family earlier this month, the questions got even more serious.

My great-grandparents: Everett and Nettie

My great-grandparents: Everett and Nettie

So we decided to take him to the cemetery where my grandfather is buried. In fact, most of my paternal family is there. The ones who are living will be buried there someday. My Nano went with us. She went through the family tree with him. My grandfather had eight siblings. There are quite a few Jackson markers.

Seeing where at least part of his people are laid to rest, seemed to really calm him. He asked where Charlie and I would be buried. We told him. He asked where he would be buried. We told him he can decide that later, when he’s grown. I like to have a plan. Apparently, he does too. He’s not nearly as anxious about it.

Lucy (in the sky with diamonds) 2001-2014

Lucy (in the sky with diamonds) 2001-2014

When we got home Saturday night, our older dog Lucy wasn’t acting quite right. She’s thirteen, and for her breed, that’s really old. The past couple of months, she’s had a marked downward spiral. Our vet and I exchanged messages about her condition…which did not seem good. By the next morning, it was clear, Lucy was dying.

Our vet met us at the clinic. Lucy went peacefully. We were all with her. It was as good a death as we could hope for the old broad. I’m sad. But watching my kid grieve for his dog is the absolute worst.

Jackson said when he’s sad, he’s going to think about the good things. Charlie and I agreed that was a good plan. We started talking about when we got her. I was a reporter at the time. We already had Murphy. It had become clear that Murphyneeded a pet.

I was doing a story on “Pet Adoption Day.” Lucy was one of the puppies there. I did a standup holding her. I found the old video of me trying to shoot it. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I thought this dog would be a good pet.

At the time, when I showed this video to Charlie to convince him he wanted this dog, he was unimpressed. But I was relentless. I would call and leave voice messages pretending to be the dog and begging to come live with him. I sent emails allegedly from the dog explaining my certain death if he didn’t take me in.

Yeah, no one is sure why the man hasn’t divorced me on grounds of insanity. It took 36 hours, but he gave in.

My relationship with Lucy really didn’t ever change that much from what it was like in that video. She did exactly what she please and cooperated with precisely no one for thirteen years. I never stopped trying to make her behave.

Lucy's collar

It’s weird to me that she’s gone. She was the last connection to the life I had before I was a mother. We live in a different home. I drive a different car. I do different kinds of work. Lucy was the last piece of that life. And now all of it is completely gone. I don’t feel sad about that, necessarily. I just have a feeling of finality.

Since Lucy died, Sarge has been on Xanax. Poor guy is absolutely lost without his pal. It’s pretty heartbreaking to watch. But time and space are the only things that make grief better. Until those arrive, there’s pharmaceuticals.

Probably because I’m still raw from Lucy’s death, when my computer died this week, I pretty much lost my business. Not literally, I did lose all of my business records which was pretty devastating. I lost photos too. I even lost my Christmas card list…which you can imagine was a sucker punch to my gut.

Fair warning: if one more person tells me I should have backed up my hard drive I will reach through the fiber and choke you. I DID back it up. But as my extraordinary luck would have it, the backup failed too. The hard drive is corrupt. There’s no copy. It’s all gone.

I think I deserve some kind of medal for not slapping the Apple “Genius” who said, “That shouldn’t happen.” Really? Thank you, Captain Obvious.

At this point, it’s honestly hard to decide which is more traumatic: the computer or the dog. Whichever, this dreadful week is nearly to a close. And for that, I give thanks…because there’s really nothing else to do.

PSA: All of our dogs are shelter dogs. While I don’t disparage anyone buying a pet from a reputable breeder, please be certain you never give your money to a puppy mill. Irresponsible animal husbandry forces the euthanasia of thousands of animals in just our community every year. 

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4 thoughts on “On Death: Family, Dogs and Computers

  1. Kerri, I cannot imagine losing my dog of 13 years and my computer in the same week especially since your hard drive is corrupt and the backup failed. I had something very similar happen 2 years ago but it happened over a matter of months so in one way it was less traumatic but it was still difficult to deal with so I am very, very empathic.

    Also I think your answers to Jackson about death are very age appropriate. It is difficult to discuss death for many people. I am glad you were able to find a good answer to give your son. Some people cannot do that at all. You did well.

    I realize that I am not a friend or even really an acquaintance. I only know you from the internet but I am a psychotherapist who spent about 10 years working in child welfare so in addition to my life experience I have some credentials for whatever they may or may not be worth to back up my comments in the paragraph above.

    I hope that next week is much kinder to you.

  2. Pingback: What You Should Know About Adopting A Pet

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