Thursday, 11 August 2011

My Horribly Scarring Pet Death Experiences

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I had some traumatic experiences with pet deaths, and that I might at some point relate them. Well, I can't afford the therapy anymore, so I'm going to go ahead and tell you fine folks all about it. Please pretend to sympathize.

When I was a kid, my parents avoided telling us when our pets died. However, we were in possession of all our mental faculties and, therefore, noticed that the pets were missing. Emotional trauma ensued. Here they are, in order from least traumatic to most:

The most recent, and for the purpose of this post, least traumatic, was the death of my favourite dog.  Although we had several dogs over the years, if you asked me about my childhood pet, Marble is the one I would automatically think of as, like, my dog. We got her when I was nine, I think, and I was eighteen when Marble died.  She had been ailing for years, but when I came home from work one day and asked where she was, I was certainly not expecting my mom to tell me she had died.  Which is good, because she didn't. Tell me. She just looked at me mournfully until I clued in, and then I went to the barn to cry all by myself. When I came back, my sister-in-law offered me some words of comfort while my mom pretended to be watching the air circulate.

I guess that part's not so bad.  I was almost grown up and I could handle it. But when my little sister, who would also have considered Marble, like, her dog, came home later, my mom AVOIDED her, especially after she knew my sister had noticed the dog was missing, and she left me to tell my little sister that our dog had died.  Then she left me to comfort her. Uncool, Mommy.

When I was in the third grade, my family's house burned down while we kids were at school one day.  Once I recovered from the initial shock of that, one of the first questions I asked, because we were staying with neighbours, was "What about Shadow and Sheepy? We need to feed them!"

My parents told a deceptively detailed story about having seen the cat and the dog hanging around outside the burned-down house, eating food that had been freed by fire from its cans, and just generally having a wee of a time in the ashes of our former existence. I believed that story. It wasn't unbelievable because we lived in the country and they were indoor/outdoor animals, so it was quite possible that they'd been outside when the fire started and were fine.

It didn't dawn on me until at least fifteen years later that they might have lied, and when I asked my dad (I would never ask my mom because she just likes to pretend that death isn't, you know, a thing), he admitted that they did see the dog after the fire--he just wasn't frolicking so much as he was laying there, just being dead.  He couldn't remember whether they ever saw the cat.

For fifteen years, I had lived with guilt about the fact that my pets survived this horrifying experience but because I didn't properly take care of them afterward, they ran away anyway. That is what I thought happened. I would rather have known they were dead and not believed that my poor care had driven them away.

Socks replaced Shadow and moved into our new house with us after the fire. She hadn't been with us very long when she got hit by a car one winter afternoon while I was at a piano lesson. After getting hit, she ran to the front step of our house, seeking help I suppose. I still don't really know what happened exactly, but at any rate, she didn't survive, and at some point after the small matter of her payment to the reaper was settled, my mom came to pick me up from my piano lesson.  We made the fifteen minute drive home, and my mother acted like nothing was wrong. Let me repeat, because it's about to get really important, my mother said NOTHING by way of warning about what I would find when I got home.

So, we got home, and as I approached the house, I noticed that our front step was COVERED IN BLOOD. My mother acted as if she hadn't noticed and when I asked about it, acted as if she hadn't heard me.  She wouldn't tell me where the blood came from.  Do you really think that the dog having been hit by a car was the most horrific thing my nine-year-old brain could come up with to explain the blood all over our front step? Let me tell you, it wasn't. For one thing, every member of my family except my mother and me was out at the time (that's six people unaccounted for), and I didn't know which one of them may have just bled out on our threshold while I was plucking out Beethoven's Ode to Joy in D.

Eventually, probably out of utter pants-shitting fear for my safety, I went looking for Socks the dog, and couldn't find her, so I asked where she was. I don't remember anybody actually answering me.  I think I just finally figured it out by the way nobody would explain the blood or the dog's absence.  I mean, dear God, I hope that's what happened.

That day sucked.

In case my mom ever reads this, I just want to add that I understand that she is/was just very uncomfortable with death and didn't know how to tell us that our pets had died or how to help us get through it. I know that in her heart, at times, she thought the lie was a kindness. She meant well, and I get that! So, don't worry mom--I'm kidding about the needing therapy (for that).

1 comment:

  1. I also have pet and that name was starcy but when i lost my pet it was so sad,and when I was a kid, my parents avoided telling us when our pets died. However, we were in possession of all our mental faculties.