Friday, June 1, 2012

Goodbyes Are Always the Hardest

  I lost my best friend today, my poodle Ginger. Her health had started deteriorating rapidly a week and a half ago. She had an enlarged heart and while she was doing well on medication and diuretics, her health took a turn for the worst last night and she began suffering from edema of the lungs near the point of suffocation. She kept my mom up all night last night gasping for breath. Rather than take her to the emergency vet again and put her in a stressful situation and possibly cause a heart attack, my mom waited until our veterinarian's office was open and decided to put her to sleep somewhere she would be comfortable. We had a very kind and friendly vet who treated Ginger very well, so she was never scared or anxious at her appointments. Her health was so deteriorated and her breathing so labored that all she needed was a sedative. She went very peacefully in my mom's lap. I'm really sad that I couldn't be there in her last moments, but I'm glad she isn't in pain anymore.
  There are so many things Ginger taught me about life and love in such a short time. I really learned some of the most important things just by watching her be a dog. It's funny how our pets have that effect on us. I learned to enjoy the little things in life. I learned that true beauty comes from your happiness within, your essence, and not solely from your appearance. Most importantly, I learned unconditional love.
  Ginger was one individual who really knew how to live in the moment. I'd take her to the dog park and she would just go to town taking in all the smells and sights. She loved to frolic. Watching her wander and sniff the ground around her, occasionally stopping to look up and wag her little stubby tail (or her nub, as we called it) at us if we called out to her was just the cutest thing to watch. Let her wander around outside and she was happy. It was comical to watch her play with her toys all by herself. She would toss them around and trot around the living room floor and growl and grumble at them like she was a little child making up dialogue between herself and her little buddy. Then after she would shake them silly, she would proudly trot off dragging her toy alongside her to her retreat under the computer desk, thrilled with her victory.
  She was well-traveled, too. We took her on almost all the family vacations to Tennessee, Georgia, and she even came to Tallahassee when my family came to see me in The Rocky Horror Show. She always enjoyed a good car ride, especially when it took her to her Grammy's house. We all knew it was because Grammy spoiled her rotten. However, she did not enjoy her car seat, in part because it didn't allow her to stick her head outside the window and smell the open air. It also kept her from jumping to the front seat and into my mom's lap.
  It's funny how dogs never have self-image issues like humans do. They could be the goofiest, ugliest looking things in the world and be the happiest creatures put on the earth. Before my mom caved and finally started investing in a groomer, Ginger always won the award for "Worst Haircut" by a landslide. She continued to enjoy being a dog just the same. Even when she put on a few pounds with age, it never stopped her from enjoying her food. She enjoyed a wide culinary variety. Everything from cheeseburgers to spaghetti to cannoli filling. She even indulged in my mom's wine once, we discovered one night when we came home to find my mom's wine goblet tipped over with a few drops of leftover white wine pooled in the side. Ginger also learned the pains of a bad hangover the next day when she spent the entire day sprawled out on the couch sleeping. But I think her favorite was the whole cheeseburger she would have all to herself on her birthday. She got older and rounder, but never stopped eating like a puppy.
  The most important thing Ginger taught me was unconditional love. She must have seen me go through hundreds of good days, bad days, crying spells, fits of rage, breakups, sick days and you name it in the last eleven years and yet she never thought any less of me. She was around when I would get ready for shows and dates, she would be home to greet me when I came home. She didn't judge me when boredom caused me to uphold conversations with myself at home alone, and she didn't mind my living room karaoke sessions. She was there for a cuddle when I was sick, and she didn't mind me crying all over her fur when I got my heart broken by a boy. One morning after a really bad breakup, she stood outside my bedroom door whimpering for my mom to let her in so she could jump up on my bed and cheer me up. She was the Official Poodle Date Approval Department for every guy I've ever dated. She liked Patrick the most. She never held anything against me, or brought up my past wrongs. She loved me in spite of my many flaws.
  That's only the tip of the iceberg. As much as my heart hurts at this new empty space her passing has left behind, I know I will forever carry these things with me and always remember to be genuine because of her. So thank you, Ginger. Thank you for teaching me what's really important and for bringing our family such joy over your life. We will always remember you.


Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die...