Celebrating Life and Loss
Since giving birth to my daughter almost three years ago, it’s been a nonstop ride, which is what you’ve all heard before. But I can’t deny the loved ones I’ve lost in the time leading up to and since her birth. Three animals I had for 10-plus years all passed away in the year leading up to Little D’s birth. Over that time, I had to see them struggle in their senior stages of life: Birdie, my 10-year-old parakeet had a stroke of sorts and struggled to balance on her perch in her cage; Sammy, my 14-year-old cat lost the ability to walk properly and had to be given fluids intravenously and food via syringe; and Pogi, our dear family dog went blind and had problems urinating, so I, several months pregnant, would have to carry him in and out of the house to relieve himself. He actually wore diapers in his final weeks. These once independent animals were utterly dependent on me to feed them, take them to the bathroom and bathe them like never before. There are no happy endings to their stories in the traditional sense. Months apart, one by one, they went. The parakeet and cat both passed away at home in my arms; our dog, who had gone to spend the night at my parents’ house, where he first lived, passed away peacefully there after seeing his first master, my dad, come home from work in the middle of the night. And with Pogi’s passing, there I was, without my first “kids,” who had been part of my life for so long. People told me that I’d get over them since I had a baby coming, that I’d be too busy to be sad, but no death is easy, and even the impending arrival of a baby, my own flesh and blood, could not replace what I had with these animals. Then, Little D arrived . . . utterly dependent on me as well. But when she did, she wasn’t the only kid in our house. I missed those animals so much, I had actually (poorly) replaced each with a baby version: parakeet, kitten, and, eventually, last year, a puppy. See, while my daughter’s my everything, she’s not all things. And, yeah, I’m still here, still happy and upbeat, and then sickness or old age takes another person. That is life. And that’s been the case this past year, as early as last week: the loss of a loved one. You can’t replace people with new ones. (Not pets, either, but I tried.) But having my daughter did make the pain of loss less so. She’s a very caring little girl, and with each death, she kept my Uncle Liling, my Aunt Pat and “Grandma” Hester, in her thoughts and in her stories. Just yesterday I tried to explain to her why a bee died on the sidewalk and where it went, and she replied, “To heaven with Grandma!” I believe for her, heaven equates to a super fun place where everyone she knows goes when they die, including “rolly-pollies” and bees and ants. And, I guess, I still need to believe that, too, to go on and not be too sad for too long. Because while kids may like or need to cry, and they can do it so well, they don’t like to see their parents cry, so you just don’t—or try really, really hard not to. That’s life. And it’s a gift. Read more from First-Time Mommy HERE.