Or Maybe He’s on a Farm Somewhere. Playing.

by Marinka on November 3, 2008

On Sunday morning, this is what I posted on Twitter:

To Do List: Tell kids beloved dog is dead. Hint broadly that if they’d cleaned their room, things may have been different.

Of course I was joking about the room cleaning part, but please understand me.  My husband had just left for a business trip.  My son’s 7 year old friends were over from a sleepover the night before.  My daughter was creating a Master Race on The Sims2.  My mother called to tell me that their dog died and I was tasked to let my children know.  Some days really suck.
Although my kids went through our dog Mavis’ death, they were much younger then and I was worried that this would hit them harder.  I have been preparing them for weeks.  He is old. He is sick. He will die soon. I talked about it so much that at one point my daughter asked, “is he really still alive?”  And yet, apparently, I was too subtle.  Because when I told them that he died, my daughter dissolved into tears and my son said “I don’t even know what that means,” before he fell on me and sobbed.  It broke my heart.  
As my son sat sobbing, I tried to comfort him. “It’s ok to feel sad and cry,” I told him. “When Mavis died , I cried a lot.”
He intensified the sobbing as my daughter scolded me. “You’re going about this all wrong,” she said. “First our grand-dog, and now Mavis? Who are you going to bring up next, your grandfather?” referring to my grandfather’s death two years ago. Duly noted.
But they are children, and there was levity. Because I swear, kids make everything better. Except sleeping in on fall back Sundays.
So, here are the memorable things that my kids said, as they started sitting shiva:
“He was like a brother to me, except he was a dog and not annoying like my brother.” (daughter)
“I wish he could become undead.” (son)
“I always thought that if someone in your family died and went to heaven, they could control you from there, the way that I can control Sims characters.” (daughter)
“When you’re dead and are in heaven, it’s all black.  You can’t do anything and you can’t eat ice cream.” (son)
My son has also created something that I call the Wailing Wall–he has a whiteboard in his room, and he’s been writing messages to the dog.
“I miss you.”
“I loved you but now it’s the end.”
“Sorry to say this, but you’re dead.”
Every time he walks past that wall, he looks at it, sighs and weeps.  I know that it’s a normal mourning process and it’s healthy to go through it and I’m trying not be cynical when the kids tell me that having extra time with the video games is “the comfort” that they need right now. And that ice cream is the salve for their emotional wounds.

One year ago ...

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Madge November 4, 2008 at 4:26 am

this made me laugh and cry. ok, maybe laugh more than cry. but you know what i mean. dang, there better be ice cream in heaven or i’m not going.

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Vodka Mom November 4, 2008 at 4:40 am

I KNOW it’s not funny, but I am laughing at the white board. Why can’t kids stay little FOREVER???

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Kylie w Warszawie November 4, 2008 at 4:52 am

Wow. My cat “died” yesterday and while everyone has been so nice and offering condolences (heck my real life friend – YES I DO HAVE ONE!) stopped her car today when she saw me and asked me how I was doing.

How do you tell everyone that while I will miss this cat, I don’t really like cats and it’s not like she was all that friendly anyway?

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Melissa November 4, 2008 at 5:29 am

Losing a pet is always hard. But sondrinka seems to be following in his mother’s footsteps with the black humor. Although he probably doesn’t realize that it is funny, which is funny.

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Kristine November 4, 2008 at 6:44 am

“You’re going about this all wrong.”

I see that in my future, considering my 2 year old son insists I wear a jacket in 65° weather, he’s totally a better parent than I am.

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Jess November 4, 2008 at 7:45 am

How sad. We recently went through this with the death of my mom’s cat. When we were at my mom’s the other day my daughter asked “Where’s Nikki?”. I had to remind her she was dead.

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Kate Coveny Hood November 4, 2008 at 8:36 am

Oh I’m so sorry! I remember my childhood sadness at the death of beloved pets as well. Of course the first time, it was a yellow parakeet that died while we were on vacation. And my nieghbor who was taking care of it, decided the best thing to do was replace the dead parakeet with a live one and hope I didn’t notice the difference. This didn’t work out that well since the replacement was blue.

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Heinous November 4, 2008 at 9:00 am

I’m sorry to hear about your grand-dog.

I am totally getting a whiteboard put on my headstone now.

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Kimberly November 4, 2008 at 9:01 am

Icecream does heal everything, actually.

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Mama Ginger Tree November 4, 2008 at 9:10 am

So sorry about the dog.

I’ll send you some ice cream.

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Rachel November 4, 2008 at 10:23 am

Losing a beloved pet has never been so funny! Glad that YOU seem to be taking it so well… Hope the kids will be okay, too!

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Andrea's Sweet Life November 4, 2008 at 10:49 am

Just wait until you go over for a visit… then you’ll REALLY be in for it. Take a white board with you, for sure.

Living on a ranch, my daughter has got a pretty firm grasp on the idea of death. And also where babies come from, and how they got there. Maybe I should keep her inside more often.

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the mama bird diaries November 4, 2008 at 11:39 am

I like that you are sitting shiva for the dog. That’s cool.

Sorry about your loss. Video games and ice cream seems like the way to go.

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Anna See November 4, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I am sorry about the dog. My nine year old didn’t even want to get a dog b/c he did the math and realized he would probably be traumatized right before leaving for college when the dog died. We got one anyway. Yikes.

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Nilsa November 4, 2008 at 1:59 pm

This post is so touching. Truly. My husband and I have had a few emotional moments just talking about the death of our dog (it should be noted, she’s not yet three and is in perfectly good health – we just mean down the road). All I can say is, can I borrow your kids (if I don’t have any of my own) at that time? I think they’d help me in my own mourning process.

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Anonymous November 4, 2008 at 9:01 pm

No election post! Outrageous, Marinka. I’m sorry about the dog, too. Obviously the video games are a tool for escapism. Kind of like ice cream, but better.

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Insta-mom November 4, 2008 at 9:21 pm

I really hope you got that Wii.

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Heather, Queen of Shake Shake November 5, 2008 at 11:32 am

“I’m sorry to say this, but you are dead.”

That is priceless and I do believe in the healing power of humor.

Happy trails on the farm, grand-dog!

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Lindsey November 6, 2008 at 3:01 pm

You HAVE to take pictures of the white board…

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