So my beautiful Ginger crossed over the Rainbow Bridge sometime during the day Friday. I was not with her. Somehow, having spent of at least part of the last 363 days with Ginger, and a healthy hunk of the nearly 17 years she was with us, God decided to bring her across that bridge during the very two days that I would be away....off to my 50th High School Reunion...to revisit old friends, not knowing that I would never again gaze into big almond brown eyes that spoke so eloquently of an unconditional love that we humans seem unable to achieve for ourselves.
As Ginger began getting older, as she reached "matriarch" status in the Queendom of dogs, as she became deaf and blind, and sometimes stumbled to rise from her bed, we who loved her prayed that she would go quietly in her sleep, and somehow save us from the fright and sorrow of seeing her go.
Well, sometime on Friday, that ten pounds of joy curled up on her bed, and went to sleep....dying with the same ultimate grace in which she lived. She would never again rise up, in the early morn, and dance around me, tail wagging "good morning" and leap up on my leg in greeting, as if to say "ain't the world a lovely place and I'm so glad you are in it with me."
I have written about my dear Ginger many times here. My essay, entitled "Rescue Dog" told about Ginger's first arrival in our lives; how she brought my wife and I out of the despair of loving and losing a child...how she brought laughter back into a home as dark and desolate as any loss can be. God must have looked down on two lost souls, clinging to each other in the bedroom dark, our tears soaking our pillow, feeling forsaken...and took pity on us and sent us Ginger.
That little pup frolicked, wrestled stuff toys, chased little rubber balls around the house, performed funny antics, and made us laugh when no one, or nothing else could. And when tender loving care was needed she'd crawl up into our lap and administer great gobs of love, proving to us that loving someone, even in the face of loss, is never a mistake.
So, what's the big deal, right? She's just a dog! One should never care for a dog like you would your child, right?
Well, as I sit here, looking out at colorful spring blooms out in my back yard, as a gentle breeze whispers of a fresh new day, why am I so utterly unconsolably sad? Why do the arias of sparrows have no charm for me this morning? Why are the coos of a morning dove so mournful?
As I sat down to write my final goodbyes, the silence was broken by the subtle bubbling of Ginger's water bowl....the same sound that bowl made when my sweet Ginger walked over to lap a bit of water. My nerves are so raw, my wanting so immense, I took that as a sign that Ginger had paused there at the Rainbow Bridge, and walked back to me...to drink one last sip of water there...to let me know that she's okay....that she once again "sees"...blooming spring flowers..and birds perching on a tree limb..there to taunt her as they did in her puppyhood...that she once again can hear train whistles and bird arias, and even the sound of something wonderful being dropped into her feed bowl.
But we must no invest so much admiration for these dogs, must we? They can't "feel" as we humans do, right? Then someone is going to have to explain to me how Ginger's little sister Rosie has refused to eat, and why she emits little whimpers of heartfelt pain as she lays alone in her little day bed. Someone needs to tell me why she ambles about, sniffing Ginger's scent in the night bed, and why, this morning she crawled up on my pillow, and sat above my head and softly mewed the angst of her loss.
We are all in mourning here...over "just a dog". It hurts so very much...so much so that my heart aches and I struggle to type these words through eyes clouded with tears. Someone is going to have to explain all that to me. After all....she was just a dog.