The loss of Zeke

Zeke passed away in December of 2009. I wrote this at the time…

I am having a very hard time reconciling our recent loss. I am finding it very hard to deal with. I can find none of the usual comforting “reasons”. I am at a total loss to explain, if only to myself, and to my heart and soul, the reason why Zeke was taken from us, his family, his home, and this world.

I have lost my share of pets. A few from my earliest childhood, I honestly only vaguely remember. I fully understand there is a price to pay for having them in our lives. For having the joys of their love, comfort, trust and companionship. They do not live nearly as long as we do, and there comes a time, inevitably, when we must let go, thank them for what they have unselfishly given us, and say a final goodbye.

That time, when it comes, is never easy. But, we normally have the comfort and solace of knowing a reason why, and most often time to deal with, and prepare for the final consequences.

Perhaps they were old, they had lived a normal, full and rewarding life, now they must move on. I get that, I can deal with that. It is, in fact, the way it is meant to be. We may not know why, but we can accept that it is a part of life. We cannot, and perhaps should not, change it.

Or, they acquired a disease. It happens with animals as it does with people. But these diseases have always proven to me, at least, to be longer term affairs. I think that may be part of the grand plan. To give us some time. In that interim, our hearts get solace while waiting for the inevitable by caring for and nurturing them during their illness. For someone who is doing this, that care is perhaps most important. We are helping them keep the illness at bay, and although the disease will win eventually, we can fight the good fight, and prove our love for them, and commitment to them, while doing it.

Even though I have never lost a pet to an accident, even then, I think I would comprehend, and eventually accept. Accidents do happen. They are the wild card of life. While I know I cannot possibly understand the horror of losing a pet this way, I do think I could find some meaning somewhere, and from that, at least a degree of understanding.

Even if we had done something wrong, exposed him to a toxin, neglected his care, even then, I would at least have a reason. I would be able to turn my regret and remorse inwards, upon myself, and find a way to deal with the loss as a part of my fallibility. We are not perfect, and it is at least possible to reconcile events with our intentions.

These are all coping mechanisms that are as applicable to humans as they are to animals… After a loss of either one we all need to find some reason, some purpose, for the loss. Only then can we move through our grief and emerge back into normal life.

I have yet to find any such reason for Zeke. The mechanism was wrong, the time was wrong, and the end came entirely too abruptly, and amid too much hope.

Zeke was innocent. He was no trouble. He was happy, content, and entirely unaware of the horror that awaited. He was in the prime years of his life. He was active, fun, compassionate, and truly one of a kind. We loved him dearly, as we do all our four legged family. I have found since his loss that even though he was more in the background than any of the others, his was a large presence in this home. His disappearance has left a gaping wound for all of us. One that will not heal easily. The others, of course, notice his absence. Animals grieve also. I see it in all of them. I worry now about Zoomy. Zoomy was Zekes special friend, and Zoom Zoom has now taken to wandering the house aimlessly… Looking for someone who should be there. I hope Zoomy recovers, and I am sure he will, but it is also heartbreaking to see him, and the others, experience the sudden loss of a good friend and family member. It is made worse because they know not why, only that Zeke is suddenly gone from their lives.

And, it is also made worse, as it so often is, because we had to remove Zeke from his family, friends and warm home, and leave him in a strange place – the Vet. It was necessary, but. He probably spent the last hours of his life afraid, alone, and knowing something was very wrong. He may have thought we abandoned him in that strange place. I hope he knew we still cared. We were called by the vet, and got there for his last moments. I hope he was not too gone to know we were there. Watching his last painful breaths, watching the light go out of his eyes, watching his body go limp. I hope he knew how much we loved him. I hope he knew we did not desert him. I hope he knew we were there. I hope he knows how very much he is missed. My fear is, he didn’t. Maybe that is part of what I cannot handle?

Perhaps against the background of all the other things that are going wrong in our lives, the grief that has ensued has experienced a multiplying effect. It has been a tough year. It is going to get tougher, and there is no relief apparent on the horizon, we have little to be happy or joyous about. What joy we do get has come from the love, devotion and companionship of our family – our four legged family. That family is now one person smaller.

I now look around our home, and I want to call his name, I want to know where he is, that he is safe, happy and secure. Indeed I have called his name, many, many times, and he has not come back.

And, I do not know why.

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