Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lucy Goosey's Legacy

On Monday, May 4, 2009 our family dog, Lucy Goosey, died unexpectedly. The experience was beyond gut-wrenching. One of the hardest things for me to do was to pick up my kids from school, knowing that when we got home, the news would break their hearts. It was a warm day, sunny and clear. The kids came out of class with hope of dinner out and possibly ice cream for dessert (cotton candy for Audrey and peanut butter perfection for Dakota). I smiled, hugged them and said "What a wonderful idea. We will do that. Hey, and guess what, Dad didn't have to go on his business trip after all." They ignited into more furious giggles and the jumps in anticipation of our surprise night with Dad and all the trimmings. Now looking back, I'm not sure if I should've made them SO happy before releasing the final blow. I had no energy to argue or explain anything; I just wanted them home and in my arms.

After asking the kids to sit down on the couch for a "quick talk" before moving on with our evening plans, Dakota guessed it right away: "Someone died. Who? Mom, who? Was it one of the kitties?" All I had to say was "No, honey," and he immediately began his guttural screams and cries "Not, Lucy Mom. Oh, no, NOT LUCY. I didn't even get to say goodbye!" Audrey was her typical peaceful self, with a couple of tiny, hot tears rolling down her cheeks, she just wanted to know when we would get another dog. After a couple of hours of calming Dakota and placating Audrey, we did make our night out. Before we left, I took Lucy's two collars and the kids wore them around their wrists. This particulary comforted Dakota as he could still smell Lucy's fresh-rom-the-groomer scent. Over dinner we toasted to Lucy and talked about what a great dog she was and shared our favorite stories. Ice cream brought more tears so we snuggled when we got home and I let the kids sleep with me.

We had Lucy cremated and I somehow had to figure out how to thoughtfully explain this to the children without delving into the gory details. I simply said that Dr. Simpson (our vet) was turning her body into ashes so we could bury her in our yard. We do have a lot of wild creatures in our wooded land, so I continued to explain that we didn't want the other animals to dig her up. I also noted that if we ever moved, we would be able to dig the box up and take Lucy with us. They were satisfied with that idea and wanted to see her ashes when they arrived a week later. Oh, the things we do for our children! That was the first cremated anything I've ever seen, coming from a history of grave side burials. The box was heavier than I expected and the ashes were more gravel-like than soft like out of the fireplace. I wouldn't let them feel them. I just couldn't go there.

Each of us wrote Lucy a note and put it in the box with her. I couldn't fathom putting the box right in the ground (I don't know why) so I got out our handy, dandy ZipLoc bags. I triple bagged the box (seemed like a good idea at the time) and announced it was time for the burial. We had invited our two closest family friends over who really knew Lucy and had a relationship with her. My husband dug the hole under Lucy's favorite bush, I placed Lucy's box in the hole and then the 8 kids present took turns putting dirt on her. I asked them to say something nice about her when they did and in unison they began all covering her and spouting phases such as: "You were a good dog, Lucy," "Best dog of a life time." "We love you Lucy." "We will never forget you Lucy." Dakota and Audrey, with a little help from their friends, placed the stones they had made for her the week before on top of where we buried her. We all held hands in a circle and prayed. My parents were there so I had Mom pray. I couldn't possibly speak at that moment.

I was sad a few days afterwards. In fact, I get sad every once in a while for her. The grieving process is slow and steady. During the week after it happened, I would go to the door to let Lucy in and I could have sworn twice that I heard her barking and once that I saw her. One particularly sad time Audrey came to me and said, "Mom, don't be sad. Lucy is in your heart forever." (except it was actually cuter because Audrey still has speech issues: "Mom, don't be sad. Woosy is in yo hawd foevah.") Audrey believes that Lucy is now one of her Garden Fairies (an Audi-ism for Guardian Angel) and she talks to Lucy freely as if she is right there. She decided that Lucy is playing with our old cats, Hunter Boogyman and Chewy, in some beautiful place in Heaven for beloved pets. She showed me the faith of a child in its purist form and now I smile when I see Lucy's grave, knowing that she is still with me but instead of chasig turkeys, she is chasing clouds and instead of scaring away squirrels, she is scaring away nightmares. We love you, Lucy Goosey. You are the best dog of a lifetime.

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