Grief gives way to happy memories

By Kenneth White

Arizona Human Society

Last week, I talked about losing a best friend. As I reread those words I'd written, I began to feel uncomfortable. Not that I believe that anything I said was wrong, only that it is the wrong way to talk about this wonderful dog. You see, Lorraine was one of those amazing animals that just made you feel good to be near. The people who knew her, strangers who met her, other animals that came across her on our daily walks everyone who met Lorraine seemed instantly touched by her sweetness and happiness. The words I wrote last week were sad, and no matter how sad and raw my family and I feel, it’s just not right to leave Lorraine in sadness. Instead, I like to think of Lorraine as two years ago, when we first brought Tsimmes home from the Human Society. If a kitten can be homely, Tsimmes was that cat, a fat belly with a pinhead on top and a tail crooked into the shape of a question mark. This baby red tabby instantly recognized Lorraine as his mother. We used to worry that she, at 100 pounds, would crush him as he crawled under her belly to nurse. Those claws must have hurt when he kneaded her belly, attempting to find milk; Lorraine would sometimes grimace, but she never moved. And while Tsimmes didn't find milk, he surely found comfort. Toward the end of Lorraine's life, Tsimmes could still sometimes be found with his whole body under her head, tail sticking out like a long skinny goatee. I like to think of Lorraine on our visits to the snow in northern Arizona. Snow drifts well over her head, she barreled through, smiling form ear to ear like a delighted kid playing with the best toys, only dropping the grin long enough to take huge gulping mouthfuls of snow. At the end of an afternoon, there'd be a complicated maze showing her path and an exhausted dog napping by our feet, only asking for a hug to make her day. I like to think of her rolling on her back while her family sat watching TV. Or at least trying to watch. TV just couldn't compete with the spectacle of that ungainly, whale like body, head tossing from side to side, moaning like a lovesick moose, feet pumping the air, tail loudly slapping at the floor. She was telling us that she was happy, her evening performance at the end of yet another good day. I like to think of holding her, or watching my wife and daughter hold her, of watching the cats groom her ears, the big smile she gave to us each morning as we got out of bed, always sleeping near us, breathing heavily, a part of us. Memories may not be perfect: You cannot hug them late at night. But you can hold on to them. I will hold on to my happy memories of this most wonderful dog for the rest of my life and think of Lorraine with both a smile and tears.


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