Thursday, April 21, 2011

Goodbyes and what they mean

14 years ago I convinced my skeptical father along with my step-mom to venture to the human society "just to look." We left with a 6 month old spunky dalmatian/something puppy mix. I suggested a name: Nikita. As in Peta Wilson: Nikita, not from the show that is currently airing.

That dog had her ups and downs. The very first time they brought her over to visit my then fiance and I she raced through our yard and tore her side up on the standpipe faucet. Stitches followed. A few years ago she developed a peculiar lump on her tail and had to have it amputated. That girl had quite the life. She loved chasing squirrels, running just for the sake of running and begging for food. The kitchen was her favorite hangout. She was terrified of hot air balloons and fireworks. She had daily allergy pills in her diet and a pink tinge to her skin from scratching, but she thrived.

I've never been much of a dog person, I tend to gravitate towards the smaller furrier foes of the dogs. But Nikita was still our pet too. We loved her. Today we had to say goodbye.

At the veterinary office I allowed the tears to flow as she took her last breath. She was there and then she wasn't. Only a shell of what she was is left. We talked about how she might decide to be a bird in another life. My daughter, Hailee, showed her how to sit like a Buddha (her current fixation). On the drive home Hailee made us laugh, providing the comic relief we needed as only a 6 year old could. She doesn't quite grasp the concept of death but yet she doesn't question it either. She seems comfortable with it. Hell, I don't even understand the concept of death. It all happens so quickly, in an instant life departs from our fragile shells of a body. We are here and then we aren't.

I don't have a belief system on where we go to next. I am still searching for that answer. I do know one thing. When you gaze upon the body of someone or something that has departed even though they may appear to look exactly as you remember them. Something is just slightly different. Like a small piece or detail is missing. Like their soul has departed perhaps. I'm sure I will never fully be able to wrap my head around the beauty and complexity of it all.

But we all march on, don't we? Death is part of Life. The shadow to balance the light. The sadness ebbs and flows like the tides but as time goes on so do we and the pain lessons. I'm OK with that. Feeling present in the sadness right now but allowing my life to go on at the same time. Showing my daughter what it means to cry and laugh. To feel.

Rest well Nikita, or run well. Wherever you are, be well...


  1. when I look at that photo of her...spunky is exactly the word that comes to mind. I was misty as I read this - they are perfect examples of pure love. I'm sending you love and hugs tonight. xo

  2. I am sorry for Nikita's passing. I have to share that my sense of Hailee's comfort with the transition, the fact that she is okay feeling the feeling and knowing it will pass - to me this speaks of immense maturity (frankly I'm still struggling with these lessons). And of a fabulous mama leading the way. xoxo

  3. I like what you said about something being slightly different after someone has departed. It's so true, but I'd never thought of it that way. Bravo to you for setting a fine example for your daughter. That's wonderful. Perhaps teaching your daughter the lesson of showing emotion is a bright spot in this experience.

    Rest in peace, Nikita.

    ~ Annie

  4. Celina,
    I have been thinking about you since I saw his blessed picture on Instagram yesterday. I too stood over the family pup and watched him take his last breath about a year ago. I never thought of myself as someone who would get so emotional over any animal. I was a wreck. It was so much more painful than I could have ever imagined. My heart goes out to you.
    The first thing I thought of when you posted Nikita's pic was the timing. I have always been amazed by the act of letting go of life. I have witnessed people old and young in their last days, and have always been in awe of their ability to hang on until everyone else that they love is ready. They hang on for their loved ones. To say their last goodbye, to come to terms with the ending whatever it is they wait. When I saw Nikita's picture my first thought was "she waited". She saw you through your transformation and then she let go.
    You are such a gift to everyone around you.

  5. I send you love on a day when it's hard but I also wanted to say what you wrote was beautiful....xoxo

  6. I'm so sorry to hear about Nikita. We lost our Chopper last fall, just before Thanksgiving. Many years ago a friend sent me the poem The Rainbow Bridge when my Max died. It really helps to believe this is what happens when our pets move on. In case you haven't read the poem:

    Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
    When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

    All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.
    They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

    You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

    Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

    Author unknown...


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