Death is scary.
There are only two moments guaranteed in life; the day you’re born and the day you die. The second one is completely decided by fate which cannot be changed, altered or avoided. It’s bound to happen.
But let’s not think about death like that; let’s think of it as moments, memories and success. Here’s a long story to give a base to what I will talk about later in this post.
In my short life these past 23 years, I’ve lost a few people in my family but were not too close to where I was in a period of grieving. I never had to mourn over someone or something. That changed last August.
My first close death happened last year when I lost my first pet, my little Chihuahua, Bebe.
My parents came to pick me up from my father’s house in February 2007 holding a sky blue blanket with a furry little creature underneath. It was a seven to nine week old puppy with a crooked nose, light brown feet, a white chest and the smallest little ears on an even littler body. She was bought at our local pet store in a typical U.S.A mall where dozens of puppies, most likely, produced puppy mills were kept in cold, white cages hoping to be adopted. She was so sick that if no one took her she would have been put down before her life could even begin.
Luckily, Bebe’s luck chimed in. From the moment my mom held her, that was it. She was going to be coming home with us, sickness and all!
And we knew going in that she was sick. There was no concrete answer as to why she was always sick. Her being sick didn’t stop us from falling absolutely in love with her. She brought so much joy into our lives for almost 10 years.
She was spoiled rotten every moment of her life, surrounded by so many people who loved her. Bebe had that extra dose of innocence that even if she pooped on the rug, which she did many times, you couldn’t be mad at her for more than three minutes. All of the cuddles on your lap or underneath your neck, as if she was two pounds again, made the darkest days brighter. She was a great companion, listener, pet and sister. But being sick seemed to show its colors towards the end of her life.
May 2017 was when it all began.
Not even hours after arriving home from my senior year (pt. 1) of college, I went out with friends to celebrate the end of the year and them graduating school. I was out for only a couple hours when my poor little Beebs experienced her first, certainly not her last, seizure.
My parents, in a state of confusion and concern, rushed her over to the animal hospital in Ithaca to see what was going on. Nothing came back alarming but her liver numbers were higher than normal.
“Hm…” I thought.
I hugged my baby a little tighter that night. I sat on our love seat in the living room, starring as she sat tiredly in a red blanket where my mom, Kim, usually sits. I starred to make sure she wasn’t going to go into another seizure. Or, was I starring because I was worrying that I was going to forget what she looked like, if that was my last time I’d see her?
I’m not too sure to this day.
She went quick. The summer of 2017 brought many seizures to our little precious soul that was Bebe. She’d be great for four or so weeks and then have severe seizures. I was away at my summer job near school and was only able to visit a couple days out of the month. I couldn’t help or take the pain away.
Luckily, I was there for her final days.
I went home to work for two days and spent all the time I could with Bebe and my parents. Our time was coming to an end.
Aug. 5, 2017, morning.
I was packing to go back to my summer job as I worked that afternoon. I sat on the couch, starring once again at Bebe in her red bed against the window of the living room. I lay down on the hardwood floors next to her and began rubbing her belly like every other day, and began feeling a trembling sense of goodbye. Noticing her crooked nose wetter than usual. Her big doe eyes starring back at me, her small little paw resting gently on my face as she stretched with the force deep within her.
I cried. I cried as I said goodbye, a usual goodbye we shared as I went off to Fredonia, nothing out of the ordinary. A feeling inside of me I can’t describe told me that it was our last goodbye. She cried as I walked out the door into the garage. I couldn’t go back.
Because we both knew.
Sunday, Aug. 7, 2017.
I was working at my job when my mom called me, telling me that Bebe had one of her worst seizures yet. I began to cry, thinking that I am all the way over in Fredonia while my baby girl was in Ithaca, suffering. My mom called me in the most lifeless tone I have ever heard from her.
There was nothing I could to do. She probably knew, too. It wasn’t looking good but she would keep me up-to-date. That whole night I looked at our photos together, remembering all the beautiful moments we had made.
My parents brought her to Cornell animal hospital where one last seizure occurred. My parents cried as they begged for the doctors to let them, my moms, tend to Bebe one last time. Help her the way they knew how. She was rushed back and put on medicine to ease her system while my parents wept as they began to grieve.
Moments later, they went back with a doctor to a room where Bebe was hooked up to IVs, monitors and other technology. She wasn’t in pain at the moment. My parents coddled her, crying and holding her one last time.
“You can take her home for one last night if you’d like,” one of the doctors said.
If we took her then, she wouldn’t have came back.
So that night, almost midnight, my parents made the bold and selfless decision to put down Bebe. In order for her not to feel anymore pain because we loved her that much to not allow her to live in misery anymore. She didn’t deserve to continue to live in pain. We lost a piece of our family when we put her down. The doctors believe she had cancer in the liver and it spread to her brain.
It’s been over 10 months now. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t crying while I wrote this.
The first few months were extremely hard, coming home to an empty home when there was a full house. I didn’t hear her long fingernails tapping against the wood floor to the kitchen entrance as I entered the garage door. I didn’t see her tail waging and slouched ears running to me as I came closer into the kitchen. All her fluffies, toys, in a small red bin my the kitchen counter looking over the living room was gone. That sense of home left with her across the rainbow bridge.
So what’s the point of all this? To make you cry and feel? Actually, no. That was not my goal. I was not expecting to be so personal with our loss of Bebe but it leads me to this point.
We all have memories and moments that span over our life broken down into years then months down to our many, many days living on Earth. Memories we hold onto as if they just happened yesterday. Moments we wish we could change. Narratives written in pen instead of pencil. We can’t just think of all the moments we won’t have anymore but rather, we should be thinking about all the memories, moments and laughs that we have with people who have passed.
We gave Bebe over nine years of memories in a beautiful home, two great mommy owners, a great sister and brother, all the toys to play with, all the chicken she could possibly stuff herself with and the life she was destined not to receive. Instead of the six months she was supposed to have, we stretched that out to another nine.
I have nine years of memories with her. Imagine all the memories and moments other people have and carry in their lives. Everyone is able to look back on their life and say, “I did that. I lived through that.”
We become sad knowing that these people we hold so close to our hearts and important figures in our life won’t be able to have more memories to add to their collection. It’s hard thinking how one day we won’t have those people we love in the physical world. But people are always with us no matter what. Living or have passed.
As I’ve grown older, I have grown less afraid of death. I have accepted that one day I won’t be here anymore, same with my grandparents, parents, brother, my new dog, Jack, and my friends. It’s scary to think about but that shouldn’t stop us from living.
We have to keep living. We are allowed to be sad, hurt, confused and mourn. But we have to find that will to live. That’s what every single person who has passed would want us to do; to keep living.
Death is one sneaky son-of-a-bitch but I plan on taking the approach of embracing every single day – even if it was the most god-awful day of my life – with open arms. I will love a little harder and hate less. I will say, “thank you” and “how are you?” more often. I will make sure no one is alone. I will hug everyone I know a little bit tighter when I say, “See you later.” I will try not to rush moments anymore, in order to embrace them for what they are.
No one deserves to be forgotten or alone. Ever.