It’s been two weeks since Jasmine left us for that rainbow bridge in the sky, her haggard body barely hanging on until the new year. At almost 14, she’d had a life of chasing 10,000 squirrels. And, she’d tracked my youngest child in age by six months. Those two had a dog’s lifetime of adventures together, playing in the grass and along the creek’s edge. Jasmine had been there for all of life’s moments, both good and bad. A copperhead bite to the face, several snowstorms, a couple of hurricanes, vacations that required her to stay behind… all were endured patiently and without complaint. After we’d been away for any amount of time, she was always standing in the driveway as our Suburban rolled up. She heard the truck, its blum, blum, blum, advancing down the drive and over the bridge. Her ears would perk stiff and she’d do a little dance, chasing her tail in circles which showed us she was terribly glad we’d decided to return once again.
This is a hard post to write. Tears still fill my eyes as I look at the box labeled Pets in Peace where her body lies in ashes. It’s a heavy box, that box that has all of her except that vivacious energy and never ending desire for a vigorous belly rub. But, tonight everyone is coming to the house for a little Jasmine tribute. I have to be strong.
How do I say goodbye to such a devoted and cherished family member? To that sweet pup whose sole goal in life was just to be with us. It’s too fresh and these memories are too tied up with my family.
Cherishing these memories will have to suffice. Remembering her many encounters with the wildlife around here — dragging in numerous deer parts, chasing chickens, scratching chipmunk holes ’til her nose was clay-stained and brown, pointing up at possums — will have to do. Recounting her encounters with neighbors’ trash cans on Tuesdays, spilling everything for a juicy sandwich wrapper or smuggling a donut from who knows where… that will have to be enough. Thumbing through these pictures… will help me not to forget how important she is to us.
I don’t want to forget.
She struggled her last four weeks of life. Her breed of Border Collie /Austrialian Shepherd made her a ball of boundless energy; however, since Thanksgiving, she’d been mostly on her bed. It was a challenge for her to eat and drink. She wasn’t chasing squirrels anymore. I was determined to “ride it out” with her and hoped we’d be with her for her last breath. But, alas, she decided that a warm afternoon in early January was as good as any to take a nap on a lush bed of ivy right out front. As was fitting, Gabe, now 14, found her, peaceful and stiff, no longer encumbered by the decay of this world. He was with her at the beginning, the day we brought her home from the shelter and at the end as we patted her still body on its ivy bier.
Yes. This is a difficult post to write. But it must be done. To remember and to let it go.
God, out of love for us, gives us pets. They keep us company, forgive us when we ignore them, and offer unconditional love. Jasmine was that for us and we are grateful.