By Randy Pierce
I still feel the deep hurt and well of tears for my animal companions who have passed away when a particularly poignant reflection of their time with me is brought into focus. This is true whether it’s on a more personal anniversary, such as my twelve years without my dog Modi as of April 19, 2012, or when simply learning of a friend experiencing the loss of a beloved pet.
I reflect on my very fortunate time spent with each of my now deceased pets with a hearty appreciation for the times we shared together. Despite the overall positive experience in remembering, it takes very little for the feelings grief to gain strength again. This is all right; it is simply a measure of the depth of my love and appreciation for them and the resulting magnitude of the loss.
I always try my best to express my empathy for those dealing with death and loss. I attempt to give the same countenance I urge myself to accept. I wish for my suffering friends the courage, strength, and support to manage the hurt until the solace of time might leave the good memories to overshadow the pain and grief of loss.
As I’ve just passed the anniversary of losing Modi and approach another date of significance for the death of Ostend, my first guide dog, I’m reminded of the words I wrote after Ostend’s passing. I share them here and hope they may resonate with all, especially those who truly understand the bonds we forge with our beloved animals!
When the Lilacs Bloom
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Today there is the fragrant scent of lilacs on the air. Just over five years ago on April 19, 2000, I said farewell to my most loyal and loving Modi. On that day, my family through Rick and Monique gave to me a lilac bush to plant in Modi’s honor. Modi had the chance to approve of the bush before it was planted since we had time to prepare for Modi’s passing and this was time for the most loving farewell I could imagine. Each June near to my birthday, the lilac offers forth its fragrant bouquet in full view of my bay window into the back yard. Each time I detect the distinctive fragrance, I take time to warmly reflect upon the great companionship shared by Modi and myself. I consider it a delightful tribute to a more great experience than some may ever know. Such is the way of those magnificent bonds we forge in our lives. There is of course tremendous sadness with their passing even as there is a stronger and more marvelous connection which will outshine the bitter sharpness of pain and grief when first we lose beloved friends. So on April 19, the leaves of the lilacs may begin the budding rebirth of spring time so that in Modi’s passing anniversary, I may feel the continued yearly power of life and the continued potency of those many loving memories. Now we are in the season when the normal lilacs bloom and upon my table sits a vase full of them lovingly cut by my mother to ensure I could share in the delightful reminder. As my birthday remains a few weeks ahead, the bush from Modi is just starting to bud flowers. His is a Miss Kim Lilac which delays long enough to give me an annual birthday gift from my boy. Yet amidst the scents of the present lilacs and the recollections of Modi comes a sharing time.
Yesterday, May 24, 2005 at 5:54, my magnificent Ostend had the last beat of his heart while cradled in my lap. I laid in exactly the same room as I had with Modi some five years earlier and all the pains were equally sharp. Perhaps more so in that Ostend was a sudden and unexpected parting. Ostend had a tumor inside of his heart and it was bleeding steadily into his system. He was valiant and stoic to the end much like his counterpart in my Modi. While I know a myriad of marvels with each of these boys and while Ostend and I have a legacy of adventure in which our unique travels shall always hold infamy for our worlds, this is the time in which pain and sorrowful grief must powerfully overwhelm what will eventually become the same warm reflection I share with the memory of Modi. I know I must honor his life and our companionship with the strength to strive towards those times and so shall I manage. I already feel the hope of looking forward to that time even as I know it is far too recent a wound to my own heart for such to be readily reached. Still I take some small comfort in knowing such will come.
Modi left me in the early precursors to springtime, when April showers begin the return to the lilac’s life. Ostend said farewell when that precursor of life has surged into the bountiful flowers. They each shared such a similar and pivotal part of my life and my love for each was never diminished by my love for the other. That is the marvelous gift of love that requires no rationing to share its splendor with all those whom are valued treasures in our world. I shall love them each continuously with the fervor which is our way together. When the lilacs bloom I shall be reminded of the love which never wavered from each of these companions. Though it is always with me and I will reflect often upon this love, I am simple enough to appreciate the value of symbols and the reminders of the world around me.
In respect and tribute to Ostend he shall have his own symbol. There is a place in front of my home which has called for a planting. To this location I shall build a small shrine with a marvelous plant as centerpiece. There is a blooming bush known as a “bleeding heart” which in my visual days was always a delight to me. In honor of his bleeding heart and the pain to my own heart, such shall be my tribute to Ostend as well. It blooms a bit later than the lilac and with this effort I will know that when my first boy Modi has sent the lilacs, they are a preparation as well for the bleeding heart approach of Ostend. Equally poignant will be the reminder that in the bleeding heart is a beauty and delight which although symbolic in some ways of the pain is likewise symbolic of the beauty which was so great as to allow such pain. This hurt will go to splendor of recollection in which our beautiful sharing is recalled fondly and with warmth. Each year I shall look forward to the world reminding me of my boys When the Lilacs Bloom.
I love you both my Modi and my Ostend.