Some of you know I had to say goodbye to Lucy the Wonderdog and Ringo the Labradorganizer last week. I had planned to rework a post in their memory – one I did a while back about how they taught me time management lessons (maybe that one will come later). I also wanted to pull in some new learning from the Annual International Conference on ADHD I just attended. But then…this thing happened that I felt compelled to start writing about, and I realized, nope, this is the post for this week. While it’s not about life order, at least not in a granular sense, it IS about something that touches every client with whom I work.
I’m trying to remember what night it was I looked back from the couch and saw Ringo curled up by the back door. Lucy was in a similar position at my feet. He was staring at me hard. I looked away, I looked back – he was still staring at me with the strangest look – intense and stern, but not unloving. I knew he was telling me something. At the time, I thought he was going to leave us soon (he’d been ill). But then, when Lucy went first, I thought maybe it was about her. Was this perhaps the Saturday before it all went down? For the life of me I can’t put the timeline in place (did you know grief impacts executive functioning?).
So much of the past two weeks have been a blur, not only because of my elderly pups. I have been too loaded up, too busy, too worked up about what everyone might think about what I do or say or put out into the world.
I’m not sure why I didn’t get similar signals from Lucy, other than a little more affection than usual. I suppose she wanted to be happy-go-lucky right up to the end. The vet swore that she was putting on that Labrador smile in her final moments so we wouldn’t worry about her. Labs never want to cause alarm or sadness.
Anyway, I was in the grocery store this past Sunday morning – I was sad and thinking about these things. At the same time, I was humming along with a song they had going on their PA – it was “Good Thing.” A weird pick for the grocery store, but whatever.
I was over by the yogurt, just sort of staring at it all (not able to call to mind which flavor my husband had requested), when a woman approached me and said, “Excuse me,” very quietly. If you asked me to describe her, I wouldn’t remember a lot – glasses, Asian, shorter hair; I think she had on a puffy vest and leggings and boots. I’m guessing she would have been in her 40s or maybe early 50s. But it’s kind of like she was out of focus.
I turned to her and she asked, “May I tell you something?” Now I was a little leery (geez, is she going to hand me a flyer, or try to sell me something?). But of course, I said sure.
She leaned in slightly. In a careful, matter-of-fact, sincere tone, she said, “You are very pretty.”
I was stunned. I stammered out, “Well…thank you.” She nodded curtly and said, “You’re welcome,” with no smile, just a calm, almost…stern expression on her face.
All I could think was how my eyes were puffy and bloodshot from another ugly cry in the car (my third in 36 hours – I kept my grief bottled up for a few days while I was at the conference). I’d literally rolled out of bed and put on clothes to shop early. No makeup. I hadn’t even brushed my hair or put in my contacts.
“Um, thank you so much?” I managed again. I was a little tempted to blurt out the whole saga about how I’d just lost both my dogs, but she nodded one more time and just walked away.
I stared after her, but she didn’t look back. She just went on about her shopping as if she hadn’t said a word to me. I stole two more glances at her as I finished up – she never once looked up or changed her expression. I indulged in one more cry back in the car for good measure.
Later at home, I Googled “Evidence of afterlife for pets.” I was thinking that the whole dogs/cats going over the Rainbow Bridge thing might be just a bunch of bull$h!t we humans have made up to make ourselves feel better. I was curious to see if I could find something to help me believe that our two sweet pups were still something more than the bags of ashes carefully tucked in their wooden boxes. Yes, even with all my spiritual and inner work, I get doubts.
I came across several websites that mentioned receiving special messages from deceased pets. There were suggestions to watch for unusual events or encounters.
Are there angels among us, and was this woman one of them, wandering the aisles spreading a little kindness? Did she just notice that I looked sad and might appreciate a little pick-me-up? Because believe me, friends, I was NOT looking anywhere near “pretty” Sunday morning.*
Or did Ringo or Lucy temporarily possess a middle-aged woman in the dairy section of Trader Joe’s to give me a message? Did they want me to know I’m ok, just as I am, the way they always saw me first thing in the morning when I stumbled around with them to make coffee and scratch their sweet, sleepy heads?
I’m choosing to think so.
Because our furry/feathery/scaly friends don’t care if we look best in blues or yellows, if our hair is gray, or if we’ve gained a few pounds. They’re pure that way. They find us supremely worthy (even pretty?) whether we understand how to prioritize, have an organized pantry, or manage to get down to Inbox Zero. Often, they give us reasons to have routines – mine sure had me on several. And they also remind us, if we pay attention, that our busyness, productivity, or worries about all of the above are ultimately not what it’s all about. If we can accept that we’re ok, and worthy, we have a baseline to build upon – and much to be grateful for.
Happy, happy Thanksgiving to everyone celebrating.
*I’m not looking for any affirmation one way or the other in the comments, btw. You’ll be missing the point.
I’ve thought of you and your home and heart many times over the past week. I shouldn’t be at all surprised that when it was time to put fingers to keyboard, what would come would be lovely. Be easy with yourself as you wander through this difficult time. Thank you for the inspirational perspective.
Thank you, Kathy – writing the post was cathartic for me, and I’m happy it resonated. Hope you have a lovely holiday.
Your post reminds me of a few times when something happened that couldn’t be explained in “normal” terms. There is obviously so much that’s beyond our grasp and understanding.
My heart goes out to you at this time. I dread losing my sweet girl; I can’t imagine losing two.
Thanks so much, Janet. Their passing didn’t play out the way we would have wanted it to, but I think they needed to be together. Such a pair.
I’m thankful that you put these words out there. I lost my pal, Miles, in February. He was 16 1/2, a golden chow mix, and my shadow. I know I still have Josie but I connected with Miles in a way that I don’t share with Josie. I feel his presence from time to time. I’m not sure that’s a good thing to admit, but there you are. I wish you peace.
I’m so sorry for your loss, Diane. And I do think it’s a good thing to share, because it normalizes what so many (most?) experience after a loss like this one. Thanks so much for the kind words.
I don’t rule anything out! God knows when we are suffering, has immense compassion, and reaches out in ways that are beyond our understanding.
I’m so sorry for your loss. Pets are family, and it hurts so much. Sending you a hug.
Thanks so much, Seana!
This made me tear up. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost 2 cats a while ago and I still can’t open a can of tuna without looking for them.
I certainly believe that pets and people can reach out from beyond at times when we need them and are open to it.
I’m so sorry about your cats, Jonda. Isn’t it amazing the small things that will remind us of them? Thank you for stopping by this morning.
I’m welled up with tears. What devastating losses you had and so close together. How lucky Ringo and Lucy were to have you are their human…their family. We had a black lab, Norton. When he died, I felt like someone ripped my heart out. Everything felt slow. I felt slow, numb.
And then as the grieving continues, the healing begins. All those amazing stories and lessons start to emerge. Remembering the unconditional love, the extraordinary “welcome home” greetings, the gentle art of modeling how to just be.
No doubt you had a sign from your beautiful crew. They knew and wanted you to know.
Sending you extra love, hugs, tissues, and my deepest sympathy.
“…the gentle art of knowing how to just be.” That’s exactly what they do, isn’t it? Thank you so much for you comments and support, Linda.
There really is no topic that can’t be tied to organizing or productivity in some way! But also, I’m so sad for you. I lost a kitty just recently, but I can hardly imagine losing two! So many big, virtual, hugs to you, Sara. Happy Thanksgiving.
Well, yes, I managed to tie it to a few things. Can’t help myself, I guess. Thanks so very much, Hazel – hugs back, and I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving as well!
May you find comfort in their memories and in the knowledge that you may feel/see/hear from them again at Trader Joes, or out taking a walk, or wherever. Sending you love and light.
Thank you, Ellen. If I look for them, I probably won’t see or feel them, so I’ll look forward to being taken by surprise again.
I am so sorry for your family’s loss.
Thinking of you and sending so many hugs.
You are very pretty.
And so strong.
Thank you, friend.
Thank you, Laura. Sending hugs right back.
Sara, you were here about 9 years ago and you met my little shih tzu dog named Spanky. He is now 12.5 years old. I can’t fathom losing him, but I will definitely look back to your recent post when it happens. The good news is that I got him a little sister named Frankie (named after my Mother). She is 4.5 months old and a hot mess. She will never take Spanky’s (the famous therapy dog) place, but hopefully, she will take some of the sting off of losing him. Btw, he doesn’t really like her that much….yet. 😉
Hi Victoria – yes, I absolutely remember you and Spanky. I’m happy to hear he’s still with you, and that he has a pesky little sister now. She sounds amazing! Wishing all the best to the three of you, and thanks for commenting.
Holding y’all in my heart ❤️
Thank you so much, Holly – I hope you’re doing well.
So sorry for your loss Sara, what sweet and loving companions. Such a lovely story, thank you for sharing it. Thinking of you and your family.
Thanks so much, Emily!
First, you’re darned pretty. Beauty isn’t the makeup we apply, but the make-up of our essence. And your essence is lovely.
Second, I’ve been thinking of you a lot. Not being a pet person, I know I can sympathize but not entirely empathize. You left Twitter and I ignore Facebook, so it was a few days before I heard about Lucy (from Hazel, maybe?) and a few more when Kimberly told me about Ringo, and I wish I could just reach across the miles and give you a hug. You’ve given so much of yourself to so many, including these animals, and it reminded me of that line that’s been going around about grief just being love that has no where to go.
I don’t know if the puffer-vest lady was embodying your doggies, but I do know that you are worth all of the goodness and kindness that comes your way. In Judaism, we say, “May his/her memory be a blessing” and that’s as true for animals as it is for people. When you remember Lucy and Ringo, and when you write and we remember them a bit for you, it’s a kindness — a blessing — for everyone.
Thanks, Julie – I’m not sure how I missed this comment before, but I’ll take the virtual hug. And indeed, their memories are a blessing.
Sara — what a lovely post and amazing experience! I’m so glad I wandered into it. I just discovered your linktree and blog from looking at your signature.
After being with you at CHADD conference, I was aware that that the events, CAT gatherings, and our conversations were part of your 2 weeks of blur.
It’s been really good to read about and absorb this part of the story of your experience of the loss of your beloved dog companions.
Thanks so much, Denslow. I appreciate the kind words.
Sara, Thank you for sharing your experience of grieving the loss of your dear friends. I have a sense that those angels are all around us, if we can only be open to their spirits. Know that I care and am thinking of you as you experience loss.
It’s about staying open to what’s possible, isn’t it? Thanks so much, Bruce.