Saturday morning, November 6, 2010
Mom, the boys & I took Winnie to the funeral home for cremation. I know that may sound odd to some of you. That's okay, at first it sounded bizarre to me too.
Several years ago, we learned of pet cremation from some wonderful friends of ours when we lived in Oklahoma. At first I wasn't sure what to make of it. Who cremates their pets? Well, it turns out a lot of people do. Pet crematories and even cemeteries are nationwide.
As a kid, I have no idea what happened to our beloved pets. I probably don't want to know. My mom & step-dad bury their deceased pets as they live on a 2-3 acre 'hobby farm'. I buried two 17 year old cats that belonged to a friend of mine who passed away years ago. His cats were his companions and I called him my "Texas Grandpa." His senior feline friends died two days after he did.
As my husband & I have been moving around so much in the last few years, we wondered what we would do with our pets upon losing them. There was no question with Winnie. My mom offered a spot on her property where we could place her. I said, no. She would be cremated.
We pulled up to the funeral home on that chilly morning. A pretty dusting of snow sat on all of the trees and lightly on the grass. I was shocked to realize that we were at a regular old funeral home--one that deals with people. Why did it have to be a regular funeral home? It just so happened that they also dealt with pets. I cannot describe how difficult walking into this place was for me. How many funeral homes would I be visiting anyway? Memories of going to Baby's Jacob's funeral home pummeled me. I looked into the dark rooms while I waited for the owner. It was so quiet. The darkened rooms just look like they are waiting for sorrow. Chairs placed casually around. Flower stands are lined up near the front. And of course, the table or whatever it is that holds the casket sits empty. Boxes of tissue on tables. Silence. Silence that at any time could be filled with sobs and hushed whispers as loved ones grieve.
I was glad that our paperwork was quick, I felt anxious. The floral and other smells were starting to get to me and I felt as if my tears were unleashed once I told the woman of losing my son a week earlier. The woman told me where to bring Winnie. We had to go to a back entrance. I felt sick. This was probably where bodies were brought. I didn't want to go to that room.
My boys wanted to say goodbye to Winnie one more time so we held her bag up to the window so they could wave at her. Mom carried her in and laid her on a table. There was a gurney in the room. The woman locked a big walk-in cooler. It kind of looked like a big open storage room.
My son had been in a place like this Jumbled grief and agony started giving me a headache. Baby Jacob. Winnie.
I made my final farewells to Winnie. I stroked her soft ears for as long as I could before leaving her. My sweet old girl...I truly hoped there was a 'doggie Heaven' somewhere. Maybe she'd be kissing and playing with my baby. Maybe. I really wanted to hope for that. I know there's a lot of views about this. Does anyone believe that God made a place for our pets...those little creatures that He gave us, so full of unconditional love? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
The woman hugged me with tears in her eyes too. Upon learning of my son and she had called my whole situation, "A pretty big kick in the butt." A 'kick in the butt'. Yup, that's a great way of putting it. I almost laughed. Winnie died 10 days after I lost my son. There's just not words to describe the pain that I felt.
Part of me cried for Winnie. My sweet girl. Guilt hit me. Maybe I should have taken her to the vet when I saw her breathing hard the night before. What if I could have saved her? You know how we frequently second guess ourselves? I think that's a natural part of dealing with loss. We look for ways that we might have done things differently.
I mentioned losing my 'Texas Grandpa' several years ago. I met him through the Meals on Wheels Program and I was his 'Care Caller'. I called him daily as he didn't have any family or friends really to check on him. We grew to be great friends over the next year and a half. Several of our calls were an hour long! He would chat about his past, about his writing, stamp-collecting or about his cats--they were his family. We even took him to dinner on a regular basis.
When I found him that hot July morning several years ago, I slid into a guilt-ridden period of grief. What if I could have been there? Could I have saved him somehow? It finally took talking to his doctor to realize that even if someone had lived with him and noticed when he went down, he would have only had seconds to be helped. As the doctor put it, he was more than likely gone before he hit the floor.
As much as we try to listen when others console us with words like this, it's still often an emotional nightmare. On the 30 minute ride back up to my mom's the boys and mom sang the name song ("Sammy! Bananarama Bo Bammy, Fee Fi Fo Fammy...Sammy!") and I was grateful for how she distracted them. Amidst a smile here and there as I listened to my Sammy & Benny's laughter, I thought of my Baby Jacob. I wondered if he felt any pain when he died? I thought back to our 12 week neucco screen ultrasound when I saw his mouth opening and closing. I loved watching his movements. I wish that ultrasound could have been recorded for me.
I read that babies are practicing breathing for when their lungs fully develop. Would Jacob have gasped for air in his final moments in my womb? I knew that I'd have to ask my doctor how he died. It was something I had to know. The guilt still pummeled me. Even though women of any age can have babies withTrisomy 13, it is more common for older women. Me. My age could have hurt my poor baby. No woman wants to think that anything she did or didn't do could have harmed her baby.
The rest of Saturday was a full of headaches. I finally broke down, called a pharmacist and asked what kind of sinus medicine I should take since I figured out that my headaches were largely sinus related. Do you know that it has been over 6 years since I'd taken sinus medication? Seriously. Because I was either pregnant or nursing, I suffered through colds, sinus problems, allergies, you name it. You can't take those types of medications when you're pregnant or nursing. It was almost comical that night as I kept reading the medication box over and over. I think it's a good thing that I found humor in laughing at myself. It helped to chase the day's storm cloud away.
The boys love a Winne the Pooh episode where Tigger insults a cloud and the cloud follows him everywhere. It finds him when he's sleeping. It hovers over him soaking him with rain and grey shadows. That's how I felt all day. A big grey cloud was following me hour after hour. I wished I could have solved my problem as easily as Tigger had--all he had to do was to apologize to the cloud! At least my medication quandary helped to finally lighten my mood around midnight.
So,Saturday, November 6 was one of those 'heavy days'. Unending tears, hunched shoulders and my head bent low. I'm happy to say that things haven't been that rough since that day. I've had up and down days and I'll keep you informed of the clouds and the moments when sunshine peaks through to warm my heart.
Keep a look out for the sunshine, it really is there even if it's just a little ray. One little ray can sometimes brighten a whole room.
I welcome your comments and am so grateful for all of you who read this. I've heard from several of you through the last few weeks through Facebook. I had no idea that my words could touch anyone or even possibly someday help someone, although it's been my hope since I started writing. I knew that I needed to do this for me, but was truly hoping that I could reach someone else. Thank you for your wonderful words of encouragement. They have helped me get through these dark times.
Until next time my friends,