Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Death In The Family

Some people go into shock. Some people cry their eyes out. Others react in a multitude of different ways. But no one is unaffected. A death in the family touches everyone, even when the one who passes is the family dog.

My roommate K has just found out that her beloved pet has passed on from this world and into the next. She reacted with tears. I had locked the dorm door because I was in the shower, so when I opened the door to hear the commotion out in our hallway, there stood my tear streaked cheek faced best friend roommate. I know something is wrong, but I don't know what.

"My dog died," she says. Then the tips of her mouth curve a little upward, as if she is joking. Which in reality is not out of the realm of possibilities with her personality. So I kind of smile and half laugh. Her hands grasp my shoulders firmly. "I'm serious," she says. The word what bursts from my mouth a few times as she rounds the corner and shuts herself in the bathroom. I'm a little upset for her. How do I console her? What do I do? Is it okay to ask her about it? What do I say? How do I not make this worse?

Eventually she frees herself from the confines of our tiny dorm bathroom and comes back into our side of the dorm. She is still crying, and her whole body shudders with emotion. I don't really know what to do. What kind of a best friend am I? She fiddles with a sweatshirt on the back of her little blue chair and becomes slightly frustrated. Quickly, I wrap my arms around her for a few seconds, a little self conciously, but she is my best friend - I can't just stand there and do nothing. I let go of her and she kind of sighs a little bit and goes to sit on her bed.

"They don't really know what happened," she volunteers, her voice crackly like what's typical of someone who's been crying. All phlemy and tear soaked words. "She was looking skinny and this morning she just didn't come out of the dog house, and they just found her dead." She gives way to tears again and her body just crumples up. K pulls a blanket over her head to try and wipe some of her tears away. My heart breaks for her. I ask if there's anything I can do, but she tells me no; she's just upset. She lays down on her bed, and pulls the blanket so that it completely covers her from head to toe. I tell her I'm going to Late Nite because I didn't get dinner and then I ask if she'll be okay. She tells me yes and so I leave, a little hesitantly. I would have stayed, but my stomach was loudly protesting.

Down at Late Nite I see B, because that's where she works. I catch her eye and she comes over to me, holding a stack of multicolored bowls. "I have bad news," I say, "K's dog died." B tells me that she already knows this. Inside I'm slightly taken aback. K is my best friend. If my dog had died she would have been the first person I told. What kind of best friend am I? Obviously not a good one. I don't even know how to console a crying friend. B says she offered to take off work to stay with K, but K declined. I'm stung a little, but then I feel selfish about being hurt that I'm not the first one she told. Is it right for me to be hurt by that?

I come back to the dorm and find K out from her cover and watching the tele. I'm guessing that mindlessly watching TV is distracting to take her mind off the fact that Tessa is dead. I'm just sitting here, blogging about it, and not really sure of how to help my friend. To be honest though, there's not really room for two of us on one bed, at least not comfortably. To be comfortable you have to spoon and because K and I look like we do, I would be the little spoon, and how is that comforting to her?

I have no words to tell her. No magic sentence that will stop her hurting. I have no insight into this situation. The only time I remember that is slightly relatable to this one is when my very first dog died. It's not even fair to call him mine - he was my dad's dog. That's the first time I ever saw my dad cry. But we don't focus on that part, we just remember the happier days with that dog. But everyone has to have time to mourn - and that is now for K. I'm just going to be here and do what I can to help her. Ask God for wisdom to say the right thing and when to keep my big mouth shut.

I still can't believe that Tessa is gone. I house sat for K on many occasions and I cared for that dog greatly. But my reaction is different than K's. I have yet to shed tears. I think about how would I feel if my dog died? I don't know if I would cry. That's not generally how I react to deaths. But then again, I haven't had that much experience with death.

Contessa "Tessa" aka Puddles

1 comment:

  1. Oh, my heart just breaks for her! That is a terribly, horribly sad thing to go through. Just be there for her. And just like you remember the wonderful things about Mongo, and we remember the wonderful, hilarious things about Miki, and Boomer and Brandy -- it helps to talk about what a great pet they were, and the absolutely hilarious time that . . . KWIM? And whatever happens - keep her away from "Marley and Me!" Tony and I both bawled like babies during that movie.


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