Losing an animal leaves us in pain that is unlike most others....I have wondered many times why this is.... I found this picture from the 1946 film "The Yearling", and I think the deep regret and emotion the film stirred up provided the key to why the death of a pet feels unlike any other of life's losses. The bond portrayed in the film betwen Jody and his fawn is a primal one. The deep feelings I experience whenever I witness the boy's tragic loss of his pet, his running away from home, and his eventual return as an innocent child no longer, are more intense than the film alone warrants. By this point in the movie, Jody is accepted by his distant mother, who finally embraces him. We know then that Jody's fawn provided the love he desperately needed elsewhere. The final image, a dream of the boy's, of his romping with his animal friend, carefree in a time forever gone, affected me profoundly. It's the finality of the loss, like one's innocence, or a childhood that you can never return to again....that is what the loss of a pet feels like.
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I have a reason for writing about this tonight.
My friend's cat died last week. I didn't know the cat, but I know my friend, and how he accepted love from this creature, and how he freely gave back to the cat much affection, and how that filled a deep innocent longing in his complicated life. So I grieve. My friend would not want me to dwell on this. I have respected his wish not to show the cat's photo here. I'm creating this page as a sanctuary, a place to visit for catharsis, reflection...and in time, however long it takes, acceptance. Anyone who has ever lost a loving animal understands.
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I miss Maggie, our departed Basset hound, especially in the wintertime holiday season. I promised back in September that I would recall here only happy stories about Maggie. So now, here, it's my readers' turn to remember, to be sentimental, to share stories at the end of this post.
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Joni Mitchell wrote a line for the song "Hejira" that seems so appropriate here..... "There's comfort in melancoly, When there's no need to explain..."
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At the end of Maggie's life, our veterinarian gave us a copy of the prose poem "The Rainbow Bridge". It creates an image that our animals are no longer confused at having to leave us, no longer suffering the pain that ultimately claimed them.