No lazy day to play with toys the day after Christmas. No meandering around in our jammies all day eating leftovers or sitting by the fire relaxing after guests had all gone home.
The day after Christmas was a sad day for us. Our beloved Toby passed away. With great big holes in all of our hearts, we grieved. For those of you who are pet owners, you understand. It is like losing a family member. It hurts. It hurts deeply. Our pets love us so much. They love unconditionally. They listen. They comfort. When you have tears, they lick the pain away. When you are happy, they rejoice with you. Our pets are faithful. Toby was the best. He was all of our best friend.
Toby had been in a great deal of pain for several weeks. We thought it was arthritis. We went to the vet three times to get more medication. By Christmas, he couldn't walk at all. He cried at night. We took him to the vet the day after Christmas hoping that maybe he had a broken leg that was misdiagnosed and could be fixed. X-rays showed bone cancer. A cancer that had caused his hip bones to completely deteriorate. We had the difficult choice to make to put him to sleep and out of the pain he was experiencing. If you have not had to confront this, it is one of the most difficult choices. And then there is explaining that to your children...
I don't think I have ever seen my children cry so hard. It pained me to watch them. It was difficult to be strong, when my own heart was hurting. Later that day, when I thought we had no more tears left, my son was cutting fruit for our dinner. He turned around with the bowl in his hand and with eyes full of tears said, "I know I am crying again, but I thought I heard three barks from heaven."
I believe him. I don't pretend to know what happens to our pets when they die. I like to think that they will be in heaven. After all, God created them, too. I can't recite it, but somewhere in the Bible it says that the animals will all live in harmony; the lion and the lamb... There are no tears in heaven. I think it would be sad not to see our pets. I choose to believe they are there, and that we will see them again.
I told my children that Toby couldn't walk anymore here on earth and that he was suffering. That day after Christmas, I pictured Jesus balancing on one knee and yelling, "Come here, boy! Come on Toby!" I like to think Toby ran into his Maker's arms at the moment he closed his eyes here on earth. I like to picture him running in the fields of flowers and swimming in the ponds in heaven. I think this picture gave my children some comfort.
Three barks from heaven...I think I hear them, too.
I have written about Toby before. We adopted him two years ago from Rob's great uncle who passed away at the age of 93. Toby didn't have anywhere to go, and we had recently lost our yellow lab of 15 years. We had known Toby and were thrilled to welcome him, but were a little unsure how he would be with the children; he hadn't been around kids much. Rob's parents drove and met family from Pennsylvania to bring Toby to us. He loved our children and played endlessly with them. After six months, Toby swallowed a McDonald's pink flamingo toy and almost died. He had surgery and survived the fifty/fifty chance that was given. We were so blessed by Toby. He will be sorely missed.
I apologize to so many of you, whom I wanted to visit and wish a Merry Christmas or to respond to questions you had. I will be back soon. Enjoy your time and hug your loved ones and your pets. As one blogger wrote to me, "Love them way more than you think possible!"
Much love to all of you,