Thursday, May 17, 2012

Circle of Life

Jet, as I’m sure you may remember is Kristen’s dog

He is a beautiful, neurotic, gentle, brindled colored greyhound Lucy adores – she loves him with her whole heart and being
We met Kristen and Jet the first spring we lived in the house

Lucy was not quite a year old but her love affair with dogs had already started

Kristen was outside our window talking to someone and Lucy spied Jet from the kitchen table and started gesturing and yelling for the dog
We stepped out onto the back deck and admired Jet from afar

Kristen’s conversation ended and she invited us over to meet Jet; we haven’t left her alone since
By our second spring in the house, we were closer with them both and it had become our routine to come home and go straight to Kristen and Jet’s house

We would accompany Jet and Kristen on their walk and eventually, it became Lucy’s job to feed Jet when we got home (1 scoop of food, 2 if he was really hungry), make sure he had fresh water (with plenty of ice cubes just like he likes it) and then reward Jet with his treats (3 to be exact) and a bone Jet would sometimes ignore but usually carried over to his bed to save for later
As time has passed, and we’ve taken more and more walks, we’ve become closer with Jet and Kristen Lucy and Jet are companions, Kristen’s became a great friend;  a confidant for me, a second wife for Sean………..another person to love for all three of us

When Kristen is out of town or will d be home late from work, we take care of Jet
Sometimes, we took Jet out on our own just because Lucy wanted to see him and we didn’t want to wait for Kristen

Lucy took her responsibility of Jet’s care very seriously; so seriously that everyone at Day Care would know when Kristen was out of town as Lucy would announce that she was taking care of Jet and therefore had to go straight home that day when Mummy picked her up
Lucy took to telling people Jet was her dog, and I think for a spell, people were not sure if Jet belonged to Kristen or Lucy….but everyone knew Lucy and Kristen belonged to Jet

Every morning, we saw Kristen walking Jet as they’d pass by our window just about the time we were sitting down for breakfast
And every morning, Lucy would announce There’s Jetty Jet (sometimes she acknowledged Kristen but mostly, it was Jet she looked for…sorry Kristen)

Sometimes we catch Kristen’s eye and wave; mostly it was just ritualistic for us to look for them
Our afternoon walks turned into visits that lasted an hour (longer if it was a Friday night)

Kristen and I would sit and chat while Lucy twirled around the room singing taking breaks to snuggle with Jet on his bed or wherever he happened to be standing  
In recent months, it’s not been uncommon for Lucy to announce to me that she’d like to go to Kristen’s

I allow her to cross the circle on her own and she disappears into Kristen’s house
Minutes later, I’d see the three of them walk by, Lucy holding Jet’s leash and Kristen deep in conversation with Lucy

Sometimes they’d wave at me but mostly, they’d be so caught up in themselves they’d just go on their way
Or, Kristen show ups at our door and announces she needs Lucy’s help with a project and Lucy shoots out the door, the two of them walking/running across the circle giggling, chatting in their own little world

Kristen and Jet worked themselves into our lives, two additions I have been ever so grateful for – two additions you just think will be there forever

A month ago, Jet was hit by a car – more accurately, Jet hit a car
He got loose on his morning walk and dashed out into the street slamming into a SUV that was driving by

Sean and I knew something was going on when we saw Kristen walking then running without Jet
Sean dashed out the door just as our neighbor Pat ran to the house telling us Jet had been hit

We both ran to the street – Jet was howling, Kristen was in a state of shock and disbelief
Within 20 minutes, we located a vet, wrapped Jet up, loaded him into the car and Kristen took him to the Vet

We did not immediately tell Lucy what happened as we had no idea what the outcome would be
Throughout the day, Kristen and I spoke – of Jet’s progress and her emotional state

She called me late in the afternoon and told me the doctor decided surgery was necessary; Jet had multiple skull fractures and they needed to get in there and close the biggest one up
She was distraught and leaving work – I’ll meet you at home I said

I dropped what I was doing and left to pick up Lucy and get home so we could be with Kristen
We waited until we knew Jet was okay before telling Lucy what had happened

Lucy, true to form, took it in stride and kept telling everyone (including Sean, Kristen and I) we needed to be gentle with Jet and to be careful of the straw in his head
For the week after his accident, Lucy was even more attentive to Jet’s needs and his every move

She would remind the neighborhood kids they needed to be gentle with Jet as he had boo-boos

She would make sure that when we went on walks we all walked slowly so Jet could keep up
When Kristen’s sister Karen came over to remove the straw from Jet’s head, Lucy was right there hugging Jet, stroking his back as Karen worked the stitches out

If we go a day without seeing Jet or Kristen, it was one day too many for Lucy….for all of us really
Kristen comes from a big family and every year on Mother’s Day, she hosts a brunch at her house for her Mum, her sisters and her sister in law

All the siblings (4 + spouses), her parents (2) and all 14 (or is it 16) nieces and nephews descend on Kristen’s house for the celebration
We were also invited (we’ve now spent 3 holidays with Kristen and her family, I think we’re in!)

The week leading up to Mother’s Day, I was really looking forward to the brunch (Kristen’s lot is great fun) and then spending the afternoon in the hammock with a book, a bag of M&M’s and hopefully a nap
By Saturday afternoon, I was miserably sick with a cold

It had started Thursday but was just in my head, by Saturday, it was sitting in my chest as well
At one point, I blew my nose and mucus came out of my eyes, that’s how sick I was

Kristen had spent the week getting ready for the brunch which included making arrangements for Jet to go to the kennel – with that many people at her house and Jet being the Woody Allen of dogs, it was just easier to have him stay at the kennel for the day
Friday night, Lucy and I wandered over to Kristen’s to hang out with she and Jet as we explained to Lucy that he was headed to the Spa on Saturday but would be home Sunday

Jet stood across the room and barked at us which made Lucy laugh like crazy
When it was time to go, Lucy hugged Jet, yelled Ciao Bella at Kristen and they shared a fist pump

I’m trying to remember if we saw Jet on Saturday before he left for the Spa, but I can’t remember
I had told Kristen that if I was still this sick on Sunday, I would stay away – her Dad is undergoing cancer treatment and two of her nephews are younger than Lucy, I did not want to get anyone sick

Sunday morning, I was miserable
It was 9:30 before I even considered getting out of bed

When I descended the stairs, Lucy yelled Happy Father’s Day Mama!
Her Dad corrected her and she yelled Happy Fath-Mother’s Day Mama!

We opened cards, the present Lucy made me at school and the charm Sean got me for my bracelet

Within minutes, I was in the chair under the blanket and Sean and Lucy were upstairs getting cleaned up for Brunch
I sent them over to Kristen’s while I sort of napped and in general felt sorry for me (Mother’s Day, despite the efforts of my husband and daughter and certainly through no fault of theirs, has been a bust since my first one)

I finally got the energy up to shower and ventured across the Circle to say hello to Kristen’s family (keeping my distance)
Lucy was having the best time with Brendan (2 year old nephew) and Kristen and her family had, in true O’Melia fashion, welcomed us into their fold as if we belonged there all along

As the celebration came to an end, the three of us said our good-byes and headed home
Lucy and I snuggled down in the chair and I sent Sean to the grocery store to get a few necessities

As Lucy and I were sitting in the chair reading, we saw Kristen drive by
Mama! Where Kristen goin’?

You know what honey, she’s probably going to get Jet
Oh good Mama – I miss my Jetty Jet….

We continued reading and then we both fell asleep….Lucy first then me 
I vaguely remember Sean coming home

What I do remember is the phone ringing
Sean was in the bathroom and Lucy was sound asleep on me

I did not want to disturb her so I let the machine get it
I heard Kristen’s voice, she sounded funny…..

Sean, if you are there I need your help! Something is wrong with Jet..he…fell..I can’t get him up
She hung up and I called for Sean

He came out of the bathroom and I said
You need to go to Kristen’s something is wrong with Jet…

He did not even wait for me to finish nor did he stop to put his shoes on…he shot out the door and ran across the circle to Kristen’s house
I knew

I knew before I heard Kristen crying
I knew

I got up out of the chair seconds after Sean walked out and laid Lucy down on the couch and ran out the door after him
I met he and Kristen halfway between our houses

She had her face in her hands and was crying, muttering, wailing as she leaned against Sean
I looked at Sean and he shook his head, tears welled in his eyes

We took her in the house and just hugged her
Jet had…....

He was gone
And all Kristen could say was My poor Jet…my poor Jet!! And then she looked at us and cried harder asking Lucy....what will we tell Lucy?!? My poor Lucy.....

All we could do was hug Kristen
The next couple hours are a slow moving blur: we called in reinforcements (Kristen's sister Karen who I totally want to be my big sister and her brother Bobby…which if you’re going to have a punk ass younger brother, you’d want this guy), Bobby and Sean took Jet away, Karen cleaned up the house, I hugged Kristen and entertained Lucy and the boys

We did not tell Lucy anything Sunday
We couldn’t

We talked about what we’d tell her

At first I thought well, I’ll tell her that Jet went to live with Baby Jesus
At Christmas, when she wrote to Santa, she informed me that Baby Jesus wanted a dog and a lion for his birthday…..and she struggled with which to ask Santa to get him but settled on the lion as she was asking for a tiger

So my original plan was to tell her that Jet had gone to live with Baby Jesus
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that would not be a good idea….it would not be a good idea because Lucy, my clever little Birdie would look for Jet when we went to Church because she knows Church is Baby Jesus’ house (he still lives with his Dad)..…and as it is, when we go to Church or drive by a Church, she has called out for/looked for Baby Jesus – so probably not a good idea as I did not want her to think we’d see Jet there

What to tell her…….
At one point, I felt silly for getting so worried about this – I suppose because one of Lucy’s friends just lost his Mum back in January and his Dad had to explain death to his children not because a family fish had died but because their Mum had passed

John is an amazing man and I marveled at him through his wife’s illness
He was stoic, strong, and positive and continued to be a rock for his son and daughter

A couple times, I’d ask after his wife and his mouth would turn down and he’d shake his head and say not such a good day…and I’d just grip his arm and tell him I was still praying for Sharon
The second one of his kids looked towards him, he’d pull his face into a bright smile and encourage them at whatever they were doing, and he never wavered in front of his children

That is still true to this day
But the more I thought about it, as much as I can because death is one of those things that rocks me to my very core, I realized that regardless of who or what has passed, loss is loss is loss…..and it hurts and it’s hard to explain and it’s hard to understand…..and it scares me more than anything else does and I now have to make death okay for my 3 year old….and I started to panic because I can’t even make death make sense me….this is an impossible feat……..

Unless you have Disney on your side
No, we’re not taking Lucy to Disney World

But Lucy loves the Lion King, she understands the Lion King, she gets the whole Circle of Life thing….she knows exactly what happened to Mufasa……
Sean and I agreed I would tell her Monday afternoon because we knew she’d want to go straight to Kristen’s to walk Jet

On the way home, we had to stop at Target
As we were walking through the store, we passed the pet section and Lucy pointed at something asking if she could get it for Jet

No honey…..I sort of trailed off as I did not want to start the conversation in the middle of Target
I knew in my heart of hearts her reaction would not be to fall apart – I mean the likelihood of her comprehending what I was about to tell her, the likelihood of her putting it into context right away was slim to none

I had decided in my head what would most likely happen is she’ll go quiet and be sad…and then 10 minutes later forget what I told her…and ask if she can watch something or do stickers…and 10 minutes after that, she’ll ask if we can go see Jet…..
I knew before we even told her anything that she probably would still ask for Jet, and we would have to explain to her again what happened to Jet…and eventually she would comprehend what we were saying…eventually, it would make sense…but it would probably take a few passes

For now, I just needed to get it in a framework she could relate to…..a framework she could understand
As we made our way through the check out and to the car, she asked

Mama, we go see Jetty Jet when we get home? I wanna take him for walk
Lucy honey, Mummy needs to talk to you about Jet

I climbed into the back seat with Lucy and as she munched in her fruit snacks, I threw up a quick prayer, took a deep breath and just started talking
Lucy, you know in the Lion King….how Mufasa got hurt…and

Yeah Mama, she interrupts, Scar tricked Simba and he went down into the rocks and the wildebeests started running ‘cause the hyenas scared them…Scar told them too…..I no like Scar…and Simba was scared but his Daddy jumped down and saved him…………
He sure did Lucy….

Yeah Mama! Mufasa jumped down and saved Simba….Lucy was getting more animated as she summarized the plot for me
Do you remember what happened to Mufasa honey?

Yeah Mama…..her voice dropped a little and her mouth turned downward….the wildebeests stepped all over him and when they stopped, he was hurt and couldn’t get up......she trailed off 
And then, she continued, Simba came down and licked his Daddy’s face and then he cried ‘cause Mufasa no open his eyes..he couldn’t open his eyes Mama and Simba was sad….
And Lucy, do you remember where Mufasa went?

She sort of cocked her head to the side and thought about it…so I asked her another question
So after Mufasa got hurt, Simba was very sad wasn’t he…Lucy nodded her head…and remember when Simba missed his Daddy and he was looking at the stars with Timone and Pumbaa and told them that the great kings lived in the stars

Yeah Mama! And then he saw his Daddy!
That’s right honey. After Mufasa got hurt, he went to live in the stars and whenever Simba missed his Daddy, all he had to do was look at the stars and Mufasa was there for him…..

Mama, what if there no stars, where Simba see Mufasa?
Well, if there are no stars, Simba just has to close his eyes and think about Mufasa and he’ll be there…

Yeah Mama, Simba sad ‘cause Mufasa went away
Yes, he was Lucy – but even though he was sad…

He looked at stars and Mufasa was there!
That’s right…..I took a deep breath, this was it……….Lucy, honey, the other day, Jet closed his eyes, just like Mufasa did……and when Kristen tried to get Jetty to open his eyes, he didn’t

Lucy sort of looked at me and thought a minute before asking
He awake now Mama?

No honey, like Mufasa, Jetty didn’t wake up….instead, Jetty went to the stars to be with Mufasa
Mama? Jetty a king now?

Uhhh.....Sort of…..he’s up in the starts now with Mufasa and the other kings
He just close his eyes Mama?

Yes honey…..

And he no wake up?

No honey, he lay down just like Mufasa and closed his eyes…..
Lucy’s eyes got really big and she asked in a worried tone

Mama! Did the wildebeests step on Jetty too???
I could not help but let a chuckle loose

No honey, the wildebeests did not step on Jetty…..I almost said Jet was just tired so he went to sleep but I did not want to traumatize her into thinking if she went to sleep she would not open her eyes….so I sort of stumbled a bit….and before I could answer she said
Mama is Kristen sad like Simba?

She is honey, she is very sad….and she misses Jet very much….but when we want to see Jet, what do we need to do?
We look in the stars Mama! Or we close our eyes and Jetty will be there!

That’s right Lucy! I felt a small victory and thought we were all good..and not wanting to prolong anything I asked her if she was okay…
Yeah Mama, we go home now?

You bectha Luce
Mama, when we get home, we go see Jetty and Kristen…?

Honey, Jet’s not at Kristen’s house anymore, he went to live in the stars with Mufasa….
When will Jet come back?

He won’t honey

She sort of went all quiet so I moved to the front seat and started driving home
I glanced in the rearview mirror a few times and saw Lucy just gazing out the window

You okay Luce Goose?
No answer

I left her alone for the rest of the drive though I did reach back and patted her little leg…in response, she squeezed my finger

When we got home, Kristen’s car was there and her front door was open

Yes honey?
Jet not at Kristen’s?

No honey
He in the stars Mama?

Yes honey…..I love you
I love you too Mama

As I went to take Lucy out of the car, she informed me she would miss Jet
I know, I told her, so will Mummy and Daddy…I hugged her as I pulled her out of her seat

As we walked towards Kristen’s house, I reminded her that Kristen was sad and we needed to be gentle with her
And honey?

Hmm Mama?
I stopped and crouched down so we were face to face

Honey, I’m sorry about Jet
Yeah, me too Mama she said as she looked at the ground and kicked at the side walk with her toe

Poor Jetty Mama......

I know baby......but remember, when you miss Jet or you want to see him…
I look at the stars! she declared with great fanfare

When we walked in the house, she gave Kristen a hug and in a sweet and soft voice whispered
Kristen? I sorry about Jet.........But Kristen, he in the stars now with Mufasa! And I can see him when I miss him!

I gave Kristen a quick explanation of what she meant
You know what Lucy, Kristen said, that is a great place for Jet to be! I’ll look for him there too!

We visited with Kristen for a bit and I think Lucy may have asked where Jet was a couple times – and I just reminded her that Jet did not live here with us anymore but if we wanted to see him, we just had to close our eyes
We bid Kristen a good night and headed home

We said prayers that night, something we have not done in a long time
We asked God to bless Mummy and Daddy and Lucy and our aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents and all our friends. We thanked God for our day and I fed Lucy the lines for the Now I lay me down to sleep prayer

After our prayers, I read a story and turned out the light and gave Lucy an extra kiss

Yes Lucy
Jet’s in the stars..

I’m not sure if it was a question or a statement
Yes honey

Yes Lucy?

I love Jet…….
I know honey

Yes Luce Goose….?

Mama, can we still take Kristen for walks…..?

Maria the Mum
Young Simba: Dad?
Mufasa: Hmm?
Young Simba: We're pals, right?
Mufasa: Right.
Young Simba: And we'll always be together, right?
Mufasa: Simba, let me tell you something my father told me. Look at the stars. The great kings of the past look down on us from those stars.
Young Simba: Really?
Mufasa: Yes. So whenever you feel alone, just remember that those kings will always be there to guide you. And so will I.

1 comment:

  1. A sad but beautiful lesson. Hugs to all and especially Kristen on the loss of her companion. xo


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