Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dog Gone-it!









When Jack was 6 he went to his friend Michael's birthday party. It was a "fishing" party where the kids pretended to fish in a baby pool and were each given a goldfish in a baggie to take home.

Except Jack didn't want one.

Upon some prodding, he agreed but said in his first-grade voice, "I'll take him, but I'm not going to grow fond of him." He did not name the fish.

Good thing, because by the time our 20 minute drive home was complete, the nameless goldfish was dead.

A year or so later, we were ready to get a dog. Everyone but Jack. He wanted a dog so badly, but upon doing the math, figured he'd be heading off to college when the dog died. He decided that loving and losing a dog would be too painful and traumatic.

So we waited.

When Shadow became available, Jack really, really wanted her. He had to revisit his fears about losing a dog and weigh whether the pain would be worth it. Before long we were heading a few hours south to pick her up.

In the last moments before our neighbors knocked on our door inviting the kids to play in the rain in early September, Jack was playing "hide and seek" with Shadow by hiding under her dog bed and making funny noises. Having been cooped up in the house all day, Shadow enjoyed getting riled up by her "brother." They had, despite Jack's fears, grown incredibly close.

A few days ago I took Shadow to the vet for her "Well Dog" appointment, because nothing says Monday morning quite like toting around a stool sample. The verdict: Shadow is the picture of health, but Jack is gone. Weird.




And now I think about what Jack worried about. About the idea of loving and then losing. Is it true "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never loved at all"? What do you think?

I am very grateful for the 12 years we had with Jack, but I wonder if I would be willing to trade the pain we're feeling now for having never seen those brown eyes, that subtle dimple, that crazy floop of his hair? To never have been given a bony hug from a too-thin boy or heard that incredible laugh?

No. No. No.

Definitely not.

But Jack, I need to tell you-- it was so terribly easy to grow fond of you.


Funny video of Shadow's antics when we first got her:


video

45 comments:

Cassie @ Primitive & Proper said...

oh this is so heartbreaking. i am sure shadow misses her brother, too. i think it is always better to have loved. always. it's a terrible thing to have it taken away from you so abruptly, and words can't do anything to fix that. but i do know it is better to have loved. always thinking of you. and all the birds coming out lately make me think of jack.

Anonymous said...

Definitely better to have loved and lost - except important to remember that the one thing you *haven't* lost is love. You love a person, and the person loves you, and that is just that. Nothing can come between that, or change that, or make it less real, and less present.

Think of you so often,

Millie. xxx

p.s. Shadow is CUTE! xxx

Anonymous said...

I knew there were many reasons to not get a dog, and that video captures several of them....until the end, that is, when sits so sweetly and looked at you so lovingly/reproachfully. I sort of cannot blame her for having ruined the room, and am sort of having fun picturing her doing it.

I'm glad Shadow is doing well. I'm mad as hell (still) that Jack is not here to love on her. And every time you tell us about him, I am yet astounded about his old-soul ways.

love,
jbhat

Life is good! said...

I can't even comprehend what you and your family have been through, but you amaze me with your strength. So glad Shadow found a great home and had Jack for a brother. The destruction that a dog can do is worth it with all the love they give. We have a choc. lab named Jack. I love that dog. He helps me on bad days. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May God continue to bless you.

Lady Jennie said...

How did Shadow handle Jack's loss?

I'm always glad to read what you wrote, Anna, and share in your life.

Sharon said...

Better to have loved and lost. I just wish there was some "fairness" in life because it is not fair that Jack is gone. I saw a blue bird the other day that reminded me of Jack. I am always looking for signs of Jack, even though I never met him, I feel I know him, through your beautiful writing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. PS one of the words to prove I'm not a robot is "ratits." Very immature of me to laugh at that as I sit here crying while I write this to you. God Bless.

Anonymous said...

You know, as I have followed your blog, and read your posts, and empathized with your pain, it occurs to me, that somewhere, amidst all of these painful, heartfelt, beautiful thoughts you have shared with your followers, there is a book waiting to be written.

I think so many could benefit from your courage, wisdom, honesty and faith...perhaps if the time is ever right, this is something you will consider.

Franny said...

Oh my gosh, that video is so precious. Shadow is so eager to please you after all those antics.

That Jack did not want "to grow fond" of his fish is so telling of such a wonderful heart. Maybe he had to go first because how could he bear to lose any of you? Maybe he went before he was old enough to really understand how much pain and suffering there is in this world, happening to children as lovely and amazing as your beautiful Jack? Maybe he had to go before he was really tarnished in any way in this world? It's almost like he left this world as perfect as he had entered it. I love your Jack even though I don't really know you or your family at all, only in a bloggy way, which I guess does count for a fair amount.

Lisa said...

It is definitely better to have loved and lost...it is awful to have lost, however, there is the memory of love. And that memory of love is what keeps us going every day.

Lori @ Studio Waterstone said...

Shadow is adorable! Ooh, I remember those days - and you handled it well. :) And yes, it's better to have loved, for sure. Wonderful story.

Anonymous said...

That is a great video - Shadow is definitely a lab, huh?

Lisa G.

Anonymous said...

What a nice story, cute dog too. I would not trade one minute of my kids being with me, well maybe during the terriable 2s. Have a great day Anna. Mary in NY

Anonymous said...

Franny - perfectly stated.

Margaret E said...

Anna,

I read another blog: Always Mom of 4 and I made this response to her post this week:



"My dad died suddenly one summer day when I was 16. For such a long time, I kept most people at arm’s length. I didn’t let anyone get to close. When I met the man who would be my husband, I would sometimes cry myself to sleep. I did not want to love Robert because I knew how much it hurt to love someone with all your heart and then, poof, one day he is gone. As I had each of my boys, I would feel the same sense of panic and love. My husand and my children think I am crazy because I will be full on anxiety when too much time has passed when I think someone should be home or they don’t answer me when I call them or text them. But how can they understand how the ringing of the phone or the door bell can turn your whole life upside down. I hope they never ever know what you and your family know all too well. It is a blessing to have love in your life, to have children and spouses and parents and a life so full of love that it hurts. Because the more we love, the more we have to lose. Your Jordan was right though. Sad and bad things happen to people all over the world every day and sometimes, they happen to us. If I think about that too much, I keep myself awake at night. I guess that is the risk we take when we are fully alive and engaged in life.:

I thought it was strange how many of your feelings and thoughts were refected in my respose to Jackie on her blog.

Loving and living are huge risks. I had my boys knowing that I could lose them in an instant, and still I did it! What is that saying: Children are your heart living outside your body".

I carry a piece of your son with me everyday and I remember each day to tell the ones I love how much I love them! Everyday, because of Jack.

Peace to you Anna and Tim and Margaret and Shadow too.

Margaret E

Anonymous said...

It's funny, because I had this conversation with my husband a few days ago. I asked him, "If you knew you could only have our son (who is also named Jack) for 12 years before he died tragically, would you still choose to have him?" Without hesitation, he answered yes. What I've learned from you, Anna, is that our children aren't guaranteed here for our entire lifetime. God "lends" them to us, in a way, to teach us about ourselves, about compassion, about strength, about fierce love and loyalty. He also decides when it's time for them to go. We can only pray that it's after we've passed....

What I'd love to hear from you is how Margaret is doing. Maybe you could write a post about how she's been doing/coping/grieving. I think about her often and how a child her age would process everything going on.

Always praying for you and your family. xoxo

L said...

Love these pictures of Shadow and your wonderful kids. So incredibly painful to have lost. Still thankful to have loved. And still love.

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

I think the time we have with the people we love is worth every second of pain and heartbreak, even when loose them much too soon. It's not fair, it's not right and it makes us want to scream at the top of our lungs, but still, we go on and we cherish the memories of the precious time we had. Hugs to you Anna, today and every day!

spedhead said...

It's so interesting that Jack would feel scared to love like that, most kids would only care about the instant gratification of a cute puppy. He was a deep, thoughtful and loving kid. Everything you tell us about him is amazing.

I agree with a previous poster, how is Margaret? I wonder about her as well.

Anonymous said...

What a deeply loving and sensitive soul your boy is. I would agree that it's better to have loved and lost, even if the pain of the loss is gut-wrenching. What would life be without love? Soulless, colorless, meaningless.

I second the suggestion that you write a book about this experience, Anna, when you have enough distance from it. You've written about it with such grace and love ... it would help all those who are struggling with loss. And I think when they make the book into a movie, Kristin Scott Thomas should play you. =)

Much love to you and your family.

geri said...

oh yes, it is better to have loved and lost the person than to have never known what it is to love them. i always say i never really knew what it was to love someone until we had Nick, and of course that is what makes losing him so incredibly painful. last time i asked my hubby if he knew then what he knows now (that we would lose him), would he still want to have him. he said no, this hurts too much. that made me sad; maybe he feels differently now. the thing is, to me anyway, we were just so incredibly lucky to have had him at all, ya know? not that i don't feel royally cheated that we only got him for 25 years, and that he got gypped out of living a long, full life, but i think of something i read recently; we ask why me when crappy things happen, and never ask why me when good things do.

i've said it before and i'll say it again, your jack was some kind of wonderful!

Jamie said...

I wouldn't trade the 16 weeks I had my boy for anything, not even to not have this pain. For weeks after he died my dog cried in his sleep. It was awful. But, that little dog has helped me more than I could ever explain. He drives me crazy and keeps me sane! Praying for all of you.

Jeanie said...

Better to have loved, for sure. I never met Jack, but have fallen in love with him just from your writings. I'm so glad that Shadow is fine. Truthfully, your title scared me. I thought, That's all she needs, to now lose her dog.

Suburban Correspondent said...

Often I think of what sort of a person I would have been had I not had my kids. Not a pretty picture, actually - raising them has taught me so much and made me much more human. For sure, loving them is worth the risk.

Anonymous said...

This post reminds me of a book by one of my favorite authors of children's literature - The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant. It is most certainly better to have loved.

Like other posters, I am so amazed by Jack's thoughtfulness & wisdom at such a young age.

I'm just another stranger who thinks of your family each day and wishes you peace.

Mimi said...

Anna, it was so wonderful to see you yesterday. I'm sorry, it wasn't a happy reason to see you, but it was still nice to see your smile.

It is much better to have loved. While Jack isn't here to touch, you still love him and you will see Jack again and it won't be for 12.5 years, it will be for eternity.

I love that video of shadow. The end is great with that giant smile.

alicia said...

I saw six large cranes in my backyard today, I thought of Jack

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Even though the answer is a given - it's not fair or easy.

And I'm terribly fond of you Anna. Just so you know.

Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants said...

Once again I am crying reading your blog, this time from laughter. I have one that is just like shadow and came home to a very similar mess once! It doesn't surprise me that Jack risked his heart to love, the more I read of him the more I see that he was quite extraordinary!

Jen G. said...

Anna,
I have grown so very fond of Jack and of you, as you've shared so much of your heart here on your blog. I think of you all throughout each day, and will, as always, keep praying for you.
Jen G.

Kim @ A Brush of Whimsy said...

Jack is SOOOO worth it! :)

Mariann said...

Oh, Anna - You've put your thoughts into words so perfectly! (((hugs))) I immediately thought of something that 'Joy' (his wife) says to 'C.S. Lewis' in the movie SHADOWLANDS: "We can't have the happiness of yesterday without the pain of today. That's the deal."

I am so sorry that you are having this unfathomable pain. It is so not right.

Thoughts and prayers are with you as always -- G-d bless -- Mariann

Princess Kate said...

Absolutely LOVE Anna. Look at all the goodness and love he brought to this world and he left it here for you to write about and experience. I know everyone who has grown to love Jack and your family are better because of him. That's a very amazing boy you have there (and yes you still have him in your heart FOREVER). Hugs and comfort coming your way from me.

Anonymous said...

The irony is not lost neither is the love you carry in your heart. He reminds me of my oldest. He is very practical about his outlook. Not easily attached to fish of which we've bought 3 betas nor stuffed animals, blankets, etc. may be boy or may be my child.thank you for sharing this story about your Jack. Beautiful insight into his personality.
Sandie

irv family said...

When Daryl played baseball...we lost three baseball players in a boating accident. One of the wives played "The Dance" by Garth Brooks at the funeral. Great lyrics and speaks to this message. You had 12 years with Jack. Far too few....but considering I never got the meet those brown eyes, or that floop of hair....much less get a boney hug..,,quite lucky indeed. Hugs....and much peace!

Patricia said...

Yes, I agree with all the commenters - better to have loved.....it's not right at all that Jack was taken from you much, much too soon. But, one day, in the future, you will think of all the funny, wonderful things he said, things he did, funny looks or smiles, and you will smile. You will be together again, someday, and you will be glad you had those years here on this mortal earth.

Cat said...

He was and is such an amazing kid Anna. I know Shadow must miss him dearly.
love,
Cat

One bolt short of a toolbox said...

really heartbreaking. ... :(

door251.blogspot.com

Leah C said...

Loving is so damned hard sometimes...and very much worth it. But, oh my, how the losing is hard; so very, very hard. Tears, hugs and prayers...

RachelSD said...

Pow, right to the heart. My heart aches for you.

helenasc said...

I continue to think of you all. By chance, I caught a little bit of two Focus on the Family broadcasts about losing children earlier this week. I don't presume to know whether they would be comforting or helpful to you at all, but thought I'd pass them on and let you decide. Prayers continue to go out to you and your family.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx?ID={FD659754-D057-4841-BB56-8B1F0BEB306D}


http://www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.aspx?ID={4BFEB5BE-9583-4252-8196-72BBA1FD434E}

Anonymous said...

Hugs to you all.
Love Kayla

Jaime Lyn at Crafty Scrappy Happy said...

I am new to your blog, Cassie from Primitive and Proper sent me your way. And my heart just hurts for what you and your family went through with your sons death. But I really appreciate your perspective and your courage. Thank you for your honesty.
Jaime

Jana said...

Sweet, sweet mama...my friend said exactly the same thing to me a few weeks ago...as horrid and painful as this road is, she'd have rather had her boy for seven years than never at all. I'm so sorry, Anna. Tears for you in Texas tonight.

Meredith Self said...

awww, better to have loved.

can't believe shadow even turned on the water!

how thoughtful of Jack, to think about the connection to a dog with such depth. most kids just 'gimme pet now.' what a beautiful heart. he must have kept you engaged in so many beautiful ways. so sorry for that loss in your life every day.

The Empress said...

We cry for two reasons: for having had that kind of love, and for not having had that kind of love.

xo