Comforting Words: Don't Stress

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Don't Stress

“From the mouth of babes…,” the Bible says and even though physically one may not be able to describe my daughter, Abigail who is now 20 years old, a ‘babe’ (unless you are referring to her “hotness”) wisdom indeed pours out of her mouth.

Take the latest piece of advice she gave me as we spoke on Messenger early this fine Sunday morning (yes, I am totally into this virtual world – with various messaging applications, Facebook, skype – you name it, I will get it!).

We had spent the previous day enjoying our favourite mother/daughter activities – shopping and making more Christmas cakes. It was late when we were done and as we bundled up to go into the cold for me to transport her home, she noticed for the first time what I have been telling her about my/our dog Angello.

Side bar: There has always been confusion about who is the true owner of Angello – the Shi Tzu/Pomeranian cross dog that my ex purchased for me over seven years ago. We had another Shit Tzu – Betty – who I had purchased for my ex some three or so years prior to that. That’s a funny story – the purchase of Betty.

I was driving home from our office – we ran a small and growing public relations firm back then – and came to a halt behind a garbage truck. I noticed a brown and white ‘thing’ hanging through the window and curiosity got the better of me. So I swung out and pulled up beside the truck and realized it was a mangy looking shaggy hair all in knots dog.

Without a second thought, I shouted up to the driver who was holding this thing, “how much do you want for it?” We wheeled and dealed and 15 minutes later, he was driving away with my cheque and I with the flee-filled “thing” on my front seat. I will never, never forget the look on my ex’s face when I presented the flea bag to her!

Betty was with us for a few years and she got mixed reactions from me. I never owned a pet in my life – much less one that lived in the house! However, she and my ex were like peas in a pod and yes, there were moments when that relationship seemed unnatural to me – I readily confess.

Then one day, Betty was gone – stolen in a swoop by thieves who swept through the neighbourhood where we had recently purchased our house. My ex was so heartbroken; she swore we would never have another dog. And we did not for years.

Until Angello and according to my ex, he was mine. She actually wanted to name him “A Fi Yuh It,” translation: “He’s Yours," as she wanted to feel no attachment to him and I guess that was her way of getting me to train him how to be a well behaved dog. Well that plan failed.

Abigail pretended at first to be nonchalant about this dog – until she realized that she could score ‘dates’ by walking him through the neigbourhood. She was right. Her first boyfriend was as a result of Angello’s cuteness.

As for my ex – she could not resist his charm and those big black eyes. Cool as she pretended to be towards him, like her late Dad, you could hear (and see if you approached quietly enough) her romping away like a child with Angello when she thought no one was looking - it was hilarious!

When the time came for us to leave for Canada – there was no question in my mind that Angello was coming once I found out that he could. So, Angello is actually an immigrant to Canada – just like the rest of us in my ‘family. He was the one who settled fastest. The first day of snow, he was out in the yard, rolling in it like a pig in s..t.

Now he is dying. I am writing as I watch him sleep on my comforter and wonder as Abigail did a few minutes ago on Messenger, “is he in pain?” He seems not to be but his hind legs are weak and since last night I have had to lift him to go do his business.

Death might not come quickly. The vet told me only this past week during his 2-month follow-up that his type of kidney disease is rare and so even the specialist who he had referred to did not know how long my darling has to live. “It could only be months, Claudette.” I can see that clearly this morning.

I have sat many times with individuals making their transition into the next life during my Clinical Pastoral training and so my fear of death no longer exists. Hence I know what I am experiencing is not fear as I watch Angello prepare to go. I believe what I am experiencing is a deep sense of loss – one that has been going on since May 2006. That was the time my daughter moved out and my world started to spiral downward.

One after one, my most beloved ones have been leaving my life and Abigail’s advice –“Don’t stress,” is hard not to do. Her wisdom, however, challenges me to look at and for what’s entering my life along with these departures. As I do that I must admit “they are legions.”

Nevertheless, right in this moment, I am grieving for a life that I once knew as Angello makes his exit.

This is not the Christmas story that readers have expected or anticipated from me – that is coming. Right now, I just need to do what Melody Beattie wrote in her book, Journey to the Heart, and not ignore my brokenness and pain, instead gently hold my heart in my hand and caress the cracks as I continue to open it even wider.

That’s tough s..t ! (Sorry for the language, I will explain another day the impact of working in a prison on my vocabulary - ha-ha).

It is just as tough as my daughter’s sage advice not to stress. One decision I have made, however, is that one of those pups from Angello’s first and last sexual encounter is coming home to me.

Blessings to all you pet lovers from a late blooming one,


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