It took a while for me to write this post (it took a while for me to write anything) because I was working on making my spirit strong again. Two weekends ago, our beloved cocker spaniel, Beatle, our first baby, crossed the rainbow bridge and made his journey to doggie heaven. I was devastated. While losing a dog probably doesn't compare to losing a human child for other people, for me, I felt that I lost a very important member of our family.
Losing Beatle meant that he would no longer welcome us at the foot of the stairs for breakfast in the morning, no more afternoon walks with him, and that's one less best friend for our little girl.
In the events leading up to our dog's passing, my husband and I were in a rush to take him to the vet. My daughter's yaya told us that evening that she asked where we went. She noticed that we took Beatle with us. Her yaya told her that we took Beatle "to the hospital" and was careful to use the word "hospital, not "doctor", because our daughter likes going to the doctor. Kudos to yaya for thinking rationally at that time.
We came home with the dilemma of how to tell our little girl that her kuya (older brother) was gone. I don't want death to traumatize her. I did some reading and I asked other moms about how to deal with this situation. While I received different opinions, I learned that the best way was to tell them the truth so that she won't grow up feeling betrayed and she can have the closure she needs.
The truth, we haven't quite told her where Beatle went. She doesn't ask. While she sees me grieve when I am reminded of the things Beatle does to bring joy to our lives, she seems to still believe that he is here. She loves to sing the Finger Family song. She would usually sing, "Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you?" and would expect her dad to reply, "Here I am, here I am, how do you do." She would go on to sing Mommy finger, and we would reverse lines for Baby finger. After which she moves on to Beatle finger and Bella finger and would expect her dad to reply in dog sounds for our two dogs. To date, she still sings Beatle finger and would expect her dad to to reply. And once in a while, she would ask me to show her videos of her and Beatle rolling on the ground together.
While I can't make any conclusions, I feel that my daughter is highly intuitive for her age and knows the truth. But we will tell her when we're all ready that Beatle is now with her lolo and lola in heaven and they are all happy together. I want her to grow up remembering that we once had this amazing dog who was part of our family, who brought us so much love and joy.
I look back to the days when I was three years old, to the first time I experienced death. I remember seeing people crying and I couldn't quite understand what was happening. I did know that a family member had died and that he was no longer with us. I was raised by a set of parents who believed that exposing us to life's ups and downs was character building and that it would make us strong. It teaches us a child to value what they have and to always cherish the good things in life. Well, they were right.
I was reminded by a friend, "Don't think of him as lost. Remind yourself that he is here with us just like all the loved ones who have gone." And she is right! It is ok to grieve. It's part of the natural healing process that makes us human. But I have to remind myself that he is in a happy place, that I have my daughter's life to look forward to, and we still have another dog, a corgi who is also our baby whose companionship we should celebrate.
So, see you again, Beatle! Have fun with your lolo and lola in heaven and eat all the food you want!