When Namine was little – I don’t exactly remember how old, but it’s been a while – she had a scare with dogs. That always made it difficult for her to be around other dogs, even totally friendly ones, but she has made some significant progress in beating her fear.
We were coming out of Sendik’s with a cart full of groceries. There was a lady walking a couple of big dogs. Namine loves dogs, so she wanted to say hi. The dogs wanted to say hi too, and they jumped up, putting their front paws on the cart and getting right in Namine’s face. She didn’t like that, and started crying. She has been terrified of dogs ever since.
Two of Jessica’s sisters have dogs, and it was always, well, let’s say interesting visiting. It took Namine quite a while to be okay with the Melissa’s hyperactive beagle, but only recently did she start getting used to Honey, the world’s largest lap dog.
She thought she was a lap dog, anyway. The half rottweiller, half chow chow certainly wasn’t the smartest dog, but she was one of the sweetest. She always loved to be petted, and from early on, Namine loved her like her own. Every time we visited Ann’s house, Namine looked forward to two things: playing with her cousin Olivia and petting Honey.
Namine was more in love with the idea of petting Honey than doing actual petting, but only because of her fear of dogs, especially big dogs. But she’d been working herself up to it for a while, until she finally mustered up the courage to scoot up to Honey herself, pet her, and sit next to her for a picture.
When we left that night, Namine was ecstatic. “I’m not afraid anymore!” she said. “I can’t wait to pet Honey again the next time we come to Auntie Ann’s!”
But it was not to be. That night was the last time Namine got to see Honey. She knew that Honey was sick – she had been praying for her every night that she would eat her dinner, that she would get a good night sleep, that they would see each other again soon. But Honey was old, she had cancer, and she was slowly fading. The best thing for her was to put her out of her misery shortly before the new year. She had stopped eating a few days prior, and there was nothing anyone could do anymore.
Jessica and I told Namine last night that Honey was dead. “Why?” is always the first response to something we don’t understand, and so it was with Namine. She understands sickness, she understands death – having some personal experience in the matter – but not the reason they exist. So she asked why. And the best reason we can give, the best reason anyone could give under the circumstances, is simply because animals get old. They get sick. It is simply the nature of life to die.
This is a stark reminder to cherish what we have. One day it will all be gone, and all we’ll have left are memories. Make them good ones.