We knew it was coming. For months, the lumps in her neck were getting larger. The day she was diagnosed, I cried off and on all day. Then I started learning one of the many things I would learn from Greta before she died.
As I said, I cried and cried when I found out she had cancer. But then I looked at her, really looked at her, and realized she was right there with me, still able to play and eat and take walks and love. At that moment, I decided to focus not upon her impending death but upon enjoying her in life. My husband and I made the decision not to dwell on it—we even decided not to talk about it with our son for a while. We wanted to practice the art of being present.
Buddhists, meditation gurus, self-help advocates have all told us being present is the answer to avoiding anxiety. After all, there is nothing we can do about the past or the future.
Greta helped me realize that, both by her own dog nature and my decision not to dwell on her illness. All day long, everyday, Greta was a dog interested in dog things. She was present and holy in so many ways—a great role model for me living in the moment.
At dinner the night she died, my son said he didn’t want to talk about her because he might cry. We had all cried a lot already. I told him sorry, we can’t avoid feeling. We must go through the process of grief. We need to remember her and laugh and cry. We’re going to grieve her loss. Because we loved her.
When given the chance to love, you should take it. Even with the risk—the fact—that some day you will lose that love. The love is worth it.
Along with love comes gratitude. Gratitude that we were given a chance to be Greta’s humans. She had been at Operation Kindness shelter when we adopted her, and had come from rough circumstances. I’ll never again be able to turn the light on in the living room without thinking of her because she was afraid of the noise it made. We rescued her and gave her a good home, and she gave us love and gratitude in return.
I’m also grateful for the support I have received at the news of her death. My neighbor’s children, who have always been afraid of dogs, sent me lovely texts saying how much she meant to them and sharing memories of her with us.
My friend Mona brought us dinner, saving me the worry of trying to feed my family. My daughter’s friends reached out to her and sent her love and support, as did many of my friends.
In dwelling upon why it is so hard to lose a beloved animal, I’ve decided there is no accident that that the word DOG has the same letters as the word GOD.
Dogs are all about love.
Dogs are all about forgiveness.
Dogs don’t pile on layers of complications like we have with people.
Dogs are faithful, loyal companions.
Dogs don’t judge.
Walking with You is My Prayer
At my church, there is a song we sing before we share our Joys and Sorrows. It says -
Walking, walking with you, walking with you is my prayer.
Sharing, sharing with you, sharing with you is my prayer.
Loving, loving you, loving you is my prayer.
That song sums up our lives with Greta. She was in so many ways a prayer. A reminder to be present. A reminder to be grateful. A reminder that love is worth it.
Blessed be, Greta Marie Wooten, 5-14-2019, thank you for being our prayer.