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Friday, July 18, 2014

Thoughts in the wind

A year ago today we had to put our chocolate lab to sleep.   The memory of the days leading up to this are as vivid to me now as they were then.  The hardest part about it was watching each of my four sons say goodbye.  Each farewell was unique.  I wrote about it here.  My husband was out of town and I was left to take Graham myself.  As horrible as it sounds, I enjoyed the last moments I had with him.  It was just like the good old days.  As we drove to his favorite park for the last time it was reminiscent of 14 years ago when he and I would make our daily trips down the PCH to the dog park in Santa Monica.  I wasn't married then and he was my co-pilot. He was the one I confided in.

In the days leading up to his death we spoiled him like only four boys could.  A lot of hugs, a lot of mouth kisses and several cookies, pizza and ice cream.   But after a few weeks the boys stopped praying for him at dinner, stopped talking about him.  I thought they had forgotten him.  Except when February 23 came around they all knew it was his birthday and we had chocolate cake.  We always had it on his birthday which is extremely selfish of us because obviously he couldn't have any.

Today Finegan asked if we could release balloons.  We have never released balloons (intentionally.)  We went to the grocery store and got four brown balloons.  The clerk asked what the special occasion was,  Parker responded "our dog died" without any hesitation.

We drove to Graham's favorite dog park and stood in the middle. I gave each of the boys a balloon.  For a moment they were not fighting, not yelling, not wrestling. They were standing there holding a balloon.  They decided to whisper things into the balloon and release it to Graham. It was the only way they felt he could hear their voice.   I was expecting this balloon release to last 2 minutes, tops, but it was edging on 10.  They were all whispering their thoughts to their deceased dog via balloon.

Runners and bicyclist passed by. Surely thinking I had some nut job parenting skills seeing four kids talking to balloons. After awhile I asked if they were ready.  All said yes except for Jack.   He finished his monologue by saying he was sorry he yelled at him that one time when he ate all of his crayons and pooped them all out in the middle of his room.

Finally on the count of 3 they released their thoughts in the wind.  We watched the brown balloons which were a dark contrast to the blue sky fade away until we could no longer see them.  They stayed relatively close together.  I found myself getting really emotional.   Not because the loss of my pet, but the simplicity of it all.

The world right now is not in a good place.  Planes being shot down, wars, conflict, the killing of innocent  children.  Children who, I would guess would also see nothing odd about whispering thoughts into a balloon to send their deceased dog well wishes.

When we left they were happy.  I regretted not sending a balloon off myself.  If only I could get the flurry of thoughts in my head, especially the bad ones, the ones that question everything, that doubt the direction of humanity into a balloon and release it to the Universe to handle it and take it off my hands.

After I learned the news of the Malaysian flight all I could think about was how I could bring children into a world like this.  How can I keep them safe from the evil that leaves no child off limits?  I can't.  And I can't expect anyone but myself to.  I can keep them from crossing the street in front of a car, from eating worms in the back yard but I can't keep them from evil people who have a great way of looking normal. They have to learn to protect themselves.

All I can do is bombard them with all that is right. Let them have moments of stillness to reflect on what is good.  In this case, it was our pet.  Graham was as good as it gets. Loyal, loving, a good listener, forgiving,  a protector and a fantastic companion. Even though we go to church, God is still a concept to them that is hard to grasp, and I'm including myself in this struggle.  I'm trying to show them tangible way to see  glimpse into what is great in God's creation, and to teach them love, forgiveness, loyalty, empathy, compassion and advocacy of what is good.

I can also release any thoughts of doubt I have to the wind because standing in front of me is four little ambassadors of the hope for the future.  Another example that something as simple as having a pet can show you what it is like to love unconditionally, despite differences or when they make poor choices and eat your favorite toy or take a preverbal dump on all that seems good.


  1. This is so sweet. The balloons are a great idea. Very symbolic of letting GO of your worries and putting good thoughts and memories out into the universe. The world isn't perfect but it's full of wonder and wonderful people like gourd family. And that's pretty awesome.

  2. *your, not gourd :)
    My fingers are too thick!