Rest Peacefully My Dear Sweet Girl
On the morning of July 16, 2007, Zoe left this life. Her heart finally got too big for her body to hold. I think the irony is poetic - she had to leave because this world got too small for the bigness of her heart. There are many stories I want to tell and are a part of this journey - stories I have been meaning to blog but have not and will retroactively - but this is my testament to her spirit and an expression of my grief, my love and my gratitude.
I am human and I am selfish. Although Zoe's health was not optimal this past year and her death was therefore not a surprise it was still a shock and emotionally devastating. Although I am grateful for this past year with her, I still wanted her to live forever. And, knowing that is not possible, my heart still stubbornly clung to the hope she would make it to the upper end of a Chihuahua's life expectancy even though my head knew I should consider it a gift of God's Grace that she lived for 13 years and that I got to spend most of those years with her.
I have had to pass through the stages of grief out of order. We were on a business trip at the time and I had to go to work a few hours after she died in my arms. Zoe was so stoic through her pain and I could be, too. I've cried some but too quickly dried my eyes and put in drops to make the red and the swelling go away. I have unpacked her things and put them away and I'll donate the medicine I refilled and food I purchased on faith just before she died. I've left her monogrammed pocked bed that she loved a giant hole into for Gracie to sleep on. Gracie looks for her but has after a few days learned that she no longer must wait for Zoe to be fed before she can eat. We all mourn in our own way and in our own time. :^)
I wonder if I will be hit with a wave of weeping and, if so, I hope it's not at the BlogHer Conference. If it is, please understand. And I will still need a hug - I haven't had enough.
The story of love is not of mine for Zoe, it is of Zoe's for me. I am humbled that she chose me as her favorite human. Zoe has always been a one human, pack of two, dog. She was my sister's dog until I willed her to allow Zoe to live with me instead. At first, for a long time, months if not years, Zoe waited patiently for my sister to return. After a couple of years there came a time when I realized that finally Zoe loved me best. Imagine that a creature who is utterly dependent on the kindness of humans for its survival decides that you are the best human on the planet and they give you all the love they have without judgment or reservation to the point of being unwilling to die if you are not there. I am a better human for wanting and trying to be worthy of such an awesome love.
I was not the only one who recognized that Zoe was special. So often people would tell me that although they didn't like dogs or little dogs or Chihuahuas Zoe was different. Because of her ability to bore into you and touch your soul with those giant brown eyes of hers. Because of the way she would shyly wait for Gracie's exuberance to die down and allow her to sidle up to someone for a pat. Because of the way she would cuddle up on your lap and defend you, any one of you, from an infidel who, by reaching for Zoe, might dare breach your personal space or attempt to take away from your cuddle time by growling or snapping at them.
And so I am grateful. Grateful for Zoe's life. Grateful for the lessons she taught me. Grateful for the comfort her presence in our pack brought to Gracie. Grateful for the time I had with her. Grateful to all the kindness shown to her by friends, family, neighbors and BlogHer conference goers. Grateful to her veterinarians who took such amazing and loving care of her. Grateful that she passed on her own before the vet could administer the shot I had made the necessary decision to give her. Grateful for the comfort of knowing that it was time for her to go, that she is no longer suffering or in pain and that she was able to hang on until she was in my arms safe and knowing it was OK for her to go.