When a pet dies, it’s a hard thing. They’re often a friend, a loyal companion, someone with whom you share inner secrets, thoughts and fears – even if they’re never spoken and this perhaps makes them closer to us than any human companion.
When it’s your childs pet – the death is even more devastating. It’s the closest that any of us will ever have to experiencing the hell of loss that a parent suffers over a child, and as the admonishment – cliche as it’s become from TV and media, "A parent should never outlive their child…", goes – it’s right on the money. It’s cruel, it’s harsh, it’s a loss not only of a friend or just anyone close but — is instead, the loss of someone you are responsible for the care of, the responsibility of the life of another. So… it’s not just any loss – it’s not the guy that fixed your tires at the autoshop or your gym teacher or your best friend from college.
It is, usually a turning point in a young life. How we deal with this kind of passing, says much of how we will deal with much of the larger bumps in the road of life. How we deal with loss, how we deal with going on. It’s not something a parent wants to see their child go through.
For years now, I’ve lived on the fringes of the hundred acre wood. Too old anymore to enter (the large wooden sign that reads "No gRoW-Nups THIS MEENS YOU!", keeps me out. I’m allowed to enter on special occasions, and the loss of someone dear to both adults and children is one such occasion. It’s a time when those with imagination and youth and joy and play still within their hearts allow those who are tired, and worn and filled with the weight of the planet in to pay their respects. The loss of a pet, is felt after all, by both sides in the war of growing up.
I stood there… amongst the leaves and leaned solemnly against the shovel. The silence of the cool autumn air surrounded me in a blanket of respect and grief. I stood there in the silence for a good long time until I felt the soft brown felt paw against my hand as it rested on the shovel.
The ground had been soft, and released itself freely as it always did beneath the Cheery blossom tree there at that hundred acre wood. The work was not strenuous, but it had been tasking. With each shovel full, a layer of regret or anger seeped free of the soul, as I considered all the things that I should have said or done or felt differently. The softeness, the gentleness of the paw on my hand was so light at first I did not acknowledge it until it gently and firmly pressed down in support of me. It wrapped around my hand as if to say, "It will be alright.".
"It was a lovely ceremony." was all the silly old bear said. I nodded. There was nothing in me to say, to speak. And the pause that held the stillness of a light rain on the leaves of the cheery tree filled the air once more. I looked over at the overstuff face of the stuffed toy, and forced a smile. "We don’t see each other much these days old friend. Except for things like this.", the bear half smiled, "No, no, we don’t.".
He turned and looked around, apraising not merely the view, but perhaps the world itself, and sighed. "It really is quite a nice view. I should think that they will be happy here. I should think I would be happy here.". For a moment, the weight of the world rested on the worn out bears shoulders. "But I should think also, that if I were to stay here too long, there is much honey and things that I would miss, and so I think it best we leave."
I had been here much of late, to the Cheery tree, where all loyal friends and memories go when it is there time to be placed away. A part of me did not want to leave, I had, after all, placed several good friends here beneath it’s leaves. "How does it work?" I said unexpectedly, and the bear turned, the weight of the world suddenly lifted from his worn button eyes and smiled. He placed a paw lovingly on the bark of the tree and rubbed it gently. "A Cheery tree is, as you know, where adults bury their fondest memories – and things they do not wish to let go, but cannot for whatever reason keep with them. There these fond memories feed the Cheery tree – and so when you are feeling blue, or need a fond memory, a wind blows up and into the the hundred acre wood… and the flower blossoms and the smell of fond memoriers are carried up and out of the wood… and back to their rightful owner. It lets you relive them, without having to carry them around with you… I think it was invented by a little boy, or, was it a little girl… it could have been both."
I inhaled, and the scent of warm cookies on a cold day in my mother kitchen filled my nose, the taint of slightly blackened edges caused me to jump and sneeze, for my mother was not the best cook, but a loving one. The old bear chuckled, "I remember that day. Your cold was quite bad.", his paw took mine and smiling we headed off to the gate.
"I can’t stay can a bit longer?", the bear smiled reproachfully, "Only someone who is growing up can bring memories here, without you – the Cheery tree would not blossom. We all have our places… but maybe the next time you come, if you bring honey, we might have a spot of tea before you go.", and he winked.
I stood there, at the gate to the hundred acre wood, and the Cheery blossom leaves flowed past, filling their with a thousand good memories. Some of them, belonging to others, some belonging to me, and I had to admit … the view really was, quite good.
…. A few thoughts that came running by… and in loving memory, of "Mrs. Floppalopgus".