My Sister’s dog just died. I know. That sounded like a line from a bad 1970s Conway Twitty country song. “Hello Darlin’, Nice to see ya, Your dog just done diiiiiiiiiieddd”. Man, I hate death. Not that many people are big fans but it really just sucks and always seems to happen at the wrong time. Yeah, like there is a good time. I don’t know. The dog dying thing is just rooof… sorry… rough.
I know I am sounding a bit insensitive making jokes. Believe me, I more than know that the family dog is exactly that, part of the family. And there is a huge void when they are gone. You feel sad and upset and empty and then mad that you are going through all that emotional stuff for a pet. But for a lot of us they are more than pets, they are companions and confidants and even like kids to childless people like my Wife and I. And I also know what is coming since my own dog is getting pretty elderly. My pup might be near deaf, half blind, slightly incontinent, missing teeth and getting grey but we sure still love him. The same way I hope everyone still loves me when I am near deaf, half blind, slightly incontinent, missing teeth and very grey too… or at least slightly more of all that stuff than I already am.
I found out about my Sister’s dog’s death on FACEBOOK. It’s a little impersonal but it’s the way folks communicate with each other these days. It always seems weird though, when you see a post about death and it has a gazillion little blue thumbs up ‘LIKEs’ under it. We all do it almost reflexively to interact and respond but how can you ‘LIKE’ that someone’s dog died. If you bump into a friend and they tell you in person that their dog passed away, you don’t reflexively make a quick thumbs up sign and say “I like that”.
I must not have been the only one that felt that way about the LIKE button because a couple of years ago they added a little sad crying face which is still kind of impersonal but is at least a better way of acknowledging, memorializing and showing support. I know I clicked the sad face under my Sister’s post hours before I mustered up the nerve to post a non-sympathetic goofy comment for distraction and cheering-up purposes.
I never know what to do with this kind of news. Do I call? I talked to my sister the day before it happened and she said he was not doing well so I know she was bracing for it but that does not make it any easier. Do I send flowers, I mean, my Sister is practically a wholesale florist so that seems a bit silly, right? Do I send a card? Does Hallmark make dead dog cards? But what would I say?
We all kind of have our rolls in my family and I’m more of the nutty comic relief guy versus the consoling counselor. The last time my Sister ran to my house upset and needing a shoulder to cry on was almost 20 years ago. I wanted to offer her something to eat but the only food single Dan had to feed her was months old frozen green bagels left over from St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe that is why she usually seeks solace and comfort from her other siblings.
I’m better at being a distraction. I imagine myself trying to make my Sister feel better in her time of sorrow by cracking darker and darker jokes. In no time I’d be digging deep into my repertoire of gallows humor singing choruses of inappropriate songs like “Dead Puppies”, “I’m Looking Over My Dead Dog Rover” and my fictitious new Conway Twitty tune.
(sung to the tune of Conways Twitty’s ‘Hello Darling’.)
Hello darlin’ nice to see you, your dog just done diiiiiiiiiieddd,
He’s just as handsome, as he used to be,
Just not quite so alivvvvvve!
How’s your new dog, are you happy, hope you’re doin’ fiiiiine
Just to know, and please remember,
One day he too will diiiiiiiie!
I should stop now, shouldn’t I? That’s bad enough already and it will only get worse. Obviously, my family feels emotions but we are not the huggy sobby focus on the misery types. We don’t talk deep feelings and emotions. We announce how we are feeling and move on or whisper about it behind each others backs. At least that is my interpretation. That could be because I am the baby of the family and growing up I was always shielded from the bad stuff. I heard the aside comments and the discussions through closed doors when I was little but paid them no mind. I was raised that way so in times of sorrow I put on a stoic face and have my real breakdown in private at a later time.
I was just starting Junior High when the family dog I grew up with died. We were all broken up. I sat on the floor of my closet with the door closed and cried in private for hours. That is kinda how I have handled Mr. Death every time he drags his nasty mean sickle of sorrow around me. Making jokes helps me push the sadness back a little and squash the sting and pain of reality a bit. It’s not a matter that I don’t care, that is how I deal with it.
So without further ado, with much love and heartbreaking sorrow, for my Sister and her family, to Forrest the Dog I dedicate the following grossly inappropriate Ogden Edsel song to a darn sweet dedicated big old pup…
still with me…
even after that…
you should have clicked away…
its only going to get worse…
I warned you