Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of the passing of our dear golden retriever Emily. We took the kids with us when we decided it would be more merciful to send her off gently with medications. It’s important to teach children that death is part of life. There is no easy way to do this, but by circling the wagons, so to speak, we make the harsh realities survivable.
If I err as a parent, it’s on the disclosure side. Shared grief is a great opportunity to help kids grow in faith and strength. I not only think it’s ok to cry in front of kids, I think it’s harmful to not show them what it means to be fully human. When our kids see us run the gamut of emotions and still come out (relatively) balanced, it gives them confidence that everything is going to be okay.
I have a series of “calendar” poems. Today I’m posting an unpublished one. Even though it’s true I’ve lost most of my dear departed in February, I will say I don’t always feel this way about February any more. But that year, February deserved some push back.
When we walked out of the vet’s office,
the snow was blowing sideways,
blasts of mock confetti.
The wind had been howling for days,
roughing up our dog, parting her fur
in brutal slices as she crouched feebly in the snow
while I stood sentinel, unable to block the gusts.
The wind had let up just long enough for us to gently usher her
into that final appointment, a family bound in anguish and tenderness,
trying to cushion her from any last discomfort.
Now this heaving insult.
“Last one out shuts off the lights,” we used to say at camp,
but today the sky was bleak, a stunned white,
the whole world wild with grief.
Everything mourning but this profane wind,
harassing us all the way to the car,
where we slammed ourselves in,
the gusts rocking our metal shelter,
snowflakes still swirling madly before settling on our coats.
Sobbing, five-year-old Lily bleated her sorrow
as we pulled away: Em-i-ly! Em-i-ly!
And the heartless wind wailed on, slicking all the roads,
throwing up snow blinds at every curve.
Steering through a screen of tears,
we slid dangerously close to the ditch
on the last bend before home.
Now it won’t stop being February.
It grinds on and on like a glacier,
and I just want to kill it,
want to strangle ugly little February.
Stubby little month with the Napoleon complex,
killing everyone I ever loved,
just to get my attention.
how I long to beat you with the rock of March,
bash in your skull with Easter,
turn your black soul
into moss and daffodils,
something peaceful and relenting.