“Here’s your Dad, he wants to talk to you.” And my wife handed me her phone.
“Hi, honey, your Mom told me about Penny.”
“She…kidneys… maybe her numbers… flushing her system, I think, I don’t know.”
Words were short, interrupted with tears and gasps to catch a breath. Davidsons do many things pretty, but crying is not one of them. Crying is hard, breathing is harder—eyes are red, and seeing clearly is harder.
“Oh honey.” Think, surely you have something to say. Help, I know you have something to offer. For God’s sake, you’ve been grieving for five years, writing for four, you gotta help her.
I panicked, I breathed, I calmed down, I saw straight—then I cried. My little girl was crying—again. I held her same tears some half-decade ago. It hurt just as much. It should hurt less, right? I’m experienced, jaded after my son was killed. Nothing could be worse than losing a child, they say. But now I hurt easily, the wound is open, blood is still fresh, tears still flow. It hurts just as much, but I can help, even more. Right?
I thought of a pastor who told me our pets will be with us in heaven. A book I read agreed because in heaven our expectations are exceeded, we have work, and God gives us the pleasures of our heart. The author reasoned animals are mentioned in heaven, so our pets could very well be there for us.
I can’t be certain but I am certain my son is there, and he is happy. So, a dog could be at his side. He is not alone, I know. A friend could be by his side.
Helping helps but helping hurts. After taking a breath, I listen to my daughter.
God it hurts, please make it stop. Please help her hurt. I held her when she was five. I held onto her when she was 30. Now I held the phone. Words connected, sentences got longer, a paragraph of sorts developed.
Penny spent the night at the hospital before going home, accompanied by some meds for comfort and a brief hug. Maybe they left from the back door. I don’t know. I never see people crying at the animal hospital. They must have a special door.
Dialysis didn’t work. “Be with her at home, they told her. Spend some quality time with her before you say goodbye.”
“Maybe her numbers will come up,” Ali told us. “I just can’t, I can’t.”
“Honey, Penny knows you love her—we know you will act in love. We know you. We know you will.”
It was all I had.
She and Jayden, just nine at the time, adopted her on site. They weren’t sure of her age. They just knew when they saw her eyes, they found a third. No longer two, now they were a family. Their little apartment was big enough and the dog park was close enough. Penny stayed inside, waited for her family at the end of the day, and loved them all night. Her life was complete.
And when they moved to their first house, she had a yard, her own park of sorts. Life was even better. She stayed with friends when her family went away, she went on long walks when we traveled to see her and the rest of our family.
That was five years ago, and now we, some 1500 miles away, hurt as if Penny was ours. Age and time are not an elixir for pain, I now know. It hurts as much, sometimes more. I clench my jaw, fix my glaze, I grow quiet. I grow old.
At home, our daughter took Penny out in the yard, her park. She wrapped her in a blanket and together they watched the birds, an occasional leaf, and stayed warm in the winter sun.
She called the Vet. It was time.
“She has a friend waiting for her in heaven,” I texted.
It’s all I had.
I am a Clinical Psychologist, a former Captain in the Navy, and I lost my son in 2014. So I took to the wilderness and found that God’s world opens up when everything you need is on your back and your only concern is the next white blaze.
Hey, I wrote a book, When Sunday Smiled, and now it has it’s own inspirational song! It’s for all kinds of people who have lost their way in this world. Check out both on my website, Andymdavidson.com.