Pink Petunia May 16, 2005 – April 19, 2016
As I rubbed Pink Petunia’s furry neck, I watched our tiny love pass into the next multiverse.
That morning, before dawn, she and I had discussed the inevitable. A few days before, a seizure had returned, it robbed her of her ability to easily walk. She would stumble, but she tried hard. She would shrug at me as she looked up at me, as if to ask if I had a solution. I had none. Before I left for work, I had given her one last asparagus treat. She never ate it.
A few hours later, our house keeper called me, “Pinky’s not doing well.”
The seizures had returned. The man-made medicines had been breached. I felt frozen in time and place as I drove her to the veterinary’s office. I called my wife, Rebecca. She saw the mobile phone picture. We rationally understood the moment, but it did not make those moments any easier.
Our veterinary neurologist, Doctor Longshore, who had saved her life for almost two years from a nasty brain tumor that hid behind her left eye, walked me through the process. It was called a euthanasia injection. I stood next to her, I didn’t want her to feel alone.
But I was helpless, I was lost in my own presence. As if I aimlessly floated in deep, dark space.
But it was not clinical, Dr. Longshore whispered each step to me. It was soft. It was kind. They had her wrapped in a warm blanket, a catheter had been placed in her left front paw. She panted for air as he thoughtfully explained each step. And then, her once happy dark eyes looked at nothing. She was silent. She was at peace.
At that exact moment, she lived forever in our memories.
The one gift Dr. Longshore had graced us with, a gift more valuable than anything on this planet, was time. Time for us to hug her, pet her, and tend to her needs. To tell her we loved her.
I tried not to cry, but I cried. I cried as I wrote this story. But, to feel that terrible emotional embrace, to not deny those emotions, to feel sorrow, to feel pain, to feel that instant separation, in truth, it allowed me to feel alive.
To know with certainty that I know what it feels like to love someone or something – unconditionally.
It was a feeling I had learned as an adult, because I had not learned it from my childhood. I had grown up not trusting anyone. But fortunately my wife Rebecca loves me unconditionally. She has patiently taught me – the how part, the rest is up to me.
I think there, in those moments, within that prism, hides the spark to understand happiness.
After Pinky’s doctor left the examination room, I kissed her head, I hugged her, and I said a brief prayer for her spirit. I tried to memorize her smell, I tried to feel her still warm body. A prayer for Pinky was the one thing I’m certain my wife would have wanted me to do. It was what my missionary grandparents had taught me to do.
So I prayed a simple prayer. If Devine Providence exists, that entity already knows what you are thinking, so I kept it simple, I kept it humble.
But as I’ve grown older, I don’t take a prayer lightly. I pray when I mean it. If I’m communicating with THE higher power, well, as my high school football coach would have said, “snap your chin strap, so you don’t get hurt.” Game on.
Perhaps my contrarian nature tends to get the best of me. So, my prayer was for Pinky, not me, or for our family. We are a tough minded crowd on the outside, but rather gooey on the inside. There are things in this universe that I cannot fully understand. And the fact I don’t understand them, well, it irritates me. I don’t like feeling powerless. So I have a tendency to argue with the unseen.
But the fact remains, I am quite sad. We are quite sad. But Rebecca and I both know – Pinky gave us that magical ability to share her unconditional love. She always wagged her ruby tail when either of us came through the front door. I think all animals feel, and if they feel, I think they feel love. I think she loved us. And we, loved her.
Now I know Pinky was a dog, and when we add a dog, or any pet to our lives, short of a Kakapo, we know it’s quite likely we’ll outlive them. I’ve been told and I have read that each year of my life equals to seven years for a canine. Canine is a fancy word for – dog. Pinky’s pills, phenobarbital, zonisamide, and prednisone all had a crafty C for canine before the prescription numbers. But when I read canine, I think hunter, meat-eater.
Pinky was not a hunter, she was a lover, she liked asparagus treats, although she did like steak, or chicken, or lobster, or… Well, you get the point, she was a child trapped in a dog’s body. Near her end, we gave her whatever she wanted.
Time has no master, God has already defined us all. The Alpha and the Omega. In time, it will take everything, every person or thing that you have loved. Eventually, it will take me. But then there are words, like joy, grace, the best being, love. It hurts to love. But I promise you, if you deny that pain, if you deaden the sorrow, you only cheat your self from feeling alive. In blunt terms, let your self bleed.
I was raised in the Christian traditions, but I don’t know if that faith outranks any other faith. But what I do know, any faith focused on giving hope and is centered on love – has to be authentic. A faith-based on hate and violence, is not a faith, it is a man-made perversion for a perceived control over nothing.
But the one thing I have learned in my journey, I have almost zero control over my destiny.
As a child every time I would cut myself from a stumble or fall, my grandmother Hazel would tell me the scar was a “Jesus band aid”, and she promised me that in time Jesus would heal the wound as if it never happened. But I always thought, but I would know it happened.
Pink Petunia scarred our hearts. It is a wound that we will carry with us until the moment we learn what hides behind the eternal light. But it is a wound we cherish, and there are memories of her that we will harken to our last breath.
We loved you, Pink Petunia.