This past week, our cat passed away. She was about a thousand years old and everyone said it was time to put her down, but we couldn't bring ourselves to do it. Then, on Wednesday after school and work, we came home to find her lying there, perfectly situated and looking like she was taking an afternoon nap. When we called her name however, she didn't respond. My husband went to touch her cheek, then he knew.
It's hard to lose a pet, but when your children are there with eyes filling with hurt and tears, it takes on a whole different level.
"When will she wake up?" Our daughter kept asking while she and our boys sat around her. I didn't know whether to cry along with them or try to hold strong, comforting them instead.
One of our sons questioned with a soft voice, "Is she in heaven now?" It brought me back to my youth. I told him what was told to me once before, but this time I had more to add.
A few years ago, my grandfather passed away. I was especially close to him and his death was unexpected. He was in his nineties and lived a wonderful life, but he also had awful stories of his youth during the Great Depression.
A couple nights after he had passed, I had a dream about him that was as real as it could be. He and I sat and talked for what seemed like hours and I kept telling him how I didn't want him to go. Finally, he said it was time, but he wanted me to remember how happy he was and told me not to worry. The last thing he said to me was how the best way he could help me believe it was him and not just a dream was by introducing me to his childhood dog. He said that he loved his pet very much and was so happy to have him again. He finished by telling me that I could go to my mom with this, but she wouldn't know about the dog because she never knew he had one as a boy.
Sure enough, I woke up in tears and called my parents right away. Just like he said in my dream, mom confirmed that grandpa had never owned a dog during his childhood, due to living through the Depression. It evidently made her wonder enough to call one of his sisters back in New Jersey. Mom's aunt replied by saying, "Oh, I forgot all about that little dog. How did you know about it?"
Completely shocked, mom asked if her aunt remembered what the dog looked like and she said she'd hunt through some old photos.
As luck would have it, about a week later, mom received a letter from her aunt with an old black and white square picture of my grandpa with his beloved pet...and guess what...it was the same dog.
As much as I couldn't believe it, it was hard to refute.
I'm glad I had it to share with our kids whether it was simply a dream, or something much better. No matter the case, it helped us through with just a little smile between our tears.