There is a different kind of silence bouncing around between the two houses here on Scenic Drive this weekend; and, I am certain, reverberating three hours away toward middle Tennessee also. Sudden, unforeseen, painful. Silence so completely unexpected – the kind that leaves broken hearts and tears. I have mentioned our spoiled princess pup a few times within my blog, and a couple of blogs were specifically related to her. I suppose this will most likely be the last.
Almost any time I think of Baby Girl (aka Babe), I think of our first meeting, when she was a puppy, only weeks old. At our first encounter, she started doing the strangest dance. It was strange to me anyhow. She was right in front of me, excitedly looking up at me, trying to make sure that I noticed her, and dancing around and around (and around) until I thought she was going to fold herself in two. Then she stops and plops herself down at my feet… actually, on top of my feet. I was not sure what any of that meant. My sister-in-law told me that she had just claimed me as one of her people. The crazy dog never stopped doing the dance and always expected to sit on my feet… and I let her!
I had never been around “indoor” dogs before. I only had one dog in my life, and he was an outside dog. He was a gift from a friend just before we moved from West Virginia to Kentucky between my junior and senior years of high school. Popeye was, in every sense of the word, a mutt; but he was my mutt! I think he thought he had died and gone to heaven when we moved from the little community where we lived to a big, wide-open farm waaayyyyy out in the country. He had the run of it, and he loved it. He had found his place. So, I will say that I do know about attachment to a dog. We had to make the hard decision to leave him there on the farm when we moved to Tennessee, as we would be living in town and that farm mutt would have been completely miserable. So I never knew about the kind of sadness of losing one in a permanently painful way.
Babe was a beautiful, golden brown Boxer, with a white chest and neck and distinct markings of black and white. She was the close companion of my niece. I believe they have been together for nearly twelve years, and she saw her through so much. When their lives came together, my niece was just three or so years out from losing her mom at age five; so Babe came to her as a safety net to get through the next few years. (I’m not sure of exact dates, so don’t fuss at me my-people!) I just know that she was with her through a lot of trials over the past twelve or so years. She was truly her best friend, loved her unconditionally and was loved unconditionally in return.
As I said earlier, I was made one of Babe’s people early in her life. I didn’t have daily contact with her, but you would not know it by the love showered on me every time I came into her presence. There was always the Babe dance, with multiple attempts at face-lick-kisses. Our time together became a little more intimate as my niece traveled over three hours away to college. In her absence and with my brother at work, I became Babe’s daily care-giver. It was really a god-send for both of us, I believe.
In the early days of my vision loss, I didn’t want to go out of the house; but the responsibility of going next door multiple times daily got me out of the house and had my attention fixed on someone other than myself. Sometimes I would just run in quickly and let her outside for a few minutes, sometimes I would hang around doing some housework, and then sometimes I would just sit in the recliner, with Babe at my feet talking to God and trying to figure out where my life was going on this new road. I have been pondering over the weekend just how I am going to now get motivated on those days that seem too dark to get in motion.
This past Friday evening, my brother joined mom and I for dinner then we watched an episode of “The Sugar Creek Gang” on PureFlix. He went home. He said he needed to go let Babe out. He had been gone only a few minutes when he called my cell phone. He sounded strange, like he was trying to talk and not talk at the same time. He said, “Keep this to yourself, but I think Babe is dying.” What? How? What? I was just with her yesterday and she was fine. He said her breathing was very shallow and she wasn’t moving. I asked if he wanted me to come over. He said I didn’t need to. I told him I was coming anyhow.
When I got over there, which was not more than five minutes – just time to put my shoes and jacket on and grab my flashlight – she was gone. She was truly gone.
He said that when he got home she came and met him at the door, acting like she wanted to go out side, then deciding to grab a few bites at the food bowl instead. He hung his jacket on the (precarious) coat rack and went to the bathroom. He heard a thump and thought that the (precarious) coat rack had finally fallen over. When he went through the house, Babe had fallen and was unconscious. That is when he called me.
Before Babe, I never really thought about the emotion involved in losing a pet, especially a pet that thought they were human (and sometimes you could almost agree with her.) My scruffy mutt, Popeye, I left him in good health, in a place that he loved; but losing Babe, that has taken me back a step, with a pang of sadness in my heart. We had to decide whether to call Haley, how to tell her and when. I told him that it would probably be better to tell her earlier in the weekend so she could have some time to absorb it before the stresses of school dropped back on her Monday morning.
It wasn’t easily told and it wasn’t easily accepted. Hers was the biggest heart-break of all.
It is times like this that I am completely frustrated with my vision loss. Previously, I would have been in the car and to her side to deliver the news in person. I would have been there to hold her when she cried, and comfort her and tell her how much Babe adored her. But when I step back, think about it, fret about it and finally, pray about it, I do understand that God has a plan and a purpose for all that He does, or allows to be done. Sometimes it is very hard to swallow. This is a time of growth in our faith and dependence on the comfort of the Father. It is times like this that I know I have to trust Him completely and believe that, somewhere down the road, we will see the “why,” and I do have faith enough to believe that is so.
Ah, yes, it is quiet around here on Scenic Drive this weekend. No one is really saying a lot. We have had a punch to the stomach and are trying to get the air back in our lungs; but we will. We will get our breath back and be laughing and talking about all the things that Babe was to us, and in our minds, seeing her running, chasing her beloved rabbits, chasing away suspected robbers, and doing her Babe dance around the rainbow bridge!
We will miss you girl!
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” ~~ Ecclesiastes 3:1