My Mom's sweet dog Molly, a beautiful Golden Retriever, has been on canine hospice since September. Although the Vet warned us that she would only have weeks to perhaps a few months, she has defied the odds. Yesterday, we thought that her luck had run out. I received a call from my Mom in the morning, informing me that she was en route to the Vet with Molly. My niece and nephews had said their goodbyes, and that it was time for Molly to be at peace.
My heart lurched with the news. Not only was I grieving Molly, but I knew the pain that my Mom was feeling. It is so hard to be away during difficult times, and I wanted nothing more than to just give her a hug. Instead, I told her that I loved her, asked her to kiss Molly for us, and I went to prepare my boys for the bad news.
I have been setting the stage for Molly's death for awhile. Timmy is familiar with the Rainbow Bridge and the idea that pets leave this life to go play in fields with their puppy parents and cousins. He knows that Lizzie, my Mom's other dog who passed a few years ago, is already on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge and that she is very happy.
Knowing that he was going to be heartbroken, I took a deep breathe and told Timmy that Molly was crossing the Rainbow Bridge. My stoic little boy dissolved in front of my eyes. His eyes swelled with tears and he was at a loss for words. He simultaneously became overwhelmed with anger and grief. After holding him, rocking him and soothing him with the beautiful scene that was meeting Molly, he finally pulled himself together. Well, as "together" as a six year old can be after learning of the death of a beloved canine friend.
When the phone rang a few minutes later, I thought it was my Mom letting me know that Molly was gone. Instead, I was met with my Mom's cheerful voice. In fact, she was nearly giddy. Apparently the Vet did not feel that it was time to put Molly out of her misery. It turns out she wasn't dying, she is just fat. (I guess her hospice diet added nearly 30 pounds to her frame, making it increasingly difficult to breath and move.)
I was relieved that Molly was not gone, but I knew that relaying the news to Timmy was going to cause confusion. He was delighted that Molly was not dead, and after some discussion he rationalized that she was too afraid to go to the top of the Rainbow Bridge. I was just happy that he wasn't crying, so I decided to agree with his rationale and try to move on.