One week ago Friday, we lost our 12 year old yellow lab, Dune. I told the kids that Daddy was taking Dune to heaven. I thought that would be a simple explanation, one that my parents had told me once, but it turned out to be a bit more complicated.
"In the sky, in the clouds"
"How are they gonna get there?"
"Ummm... well, he won't really be up there, it's his spirit really.."
"What's a spirit?"
"He needs a HELICOPTER!!!" my little boy interjected
"When is Dune coming back?"
"Honey, he's not coming back"
"He can play with Bear's balloon!"
About a month ago, Bear had a helium balloon that we all watched float away, which inspired many discussions. Where was it? Would a bird bring it back? So now Dune gets to play with it. OK, pass the Kleenex!
"Are you a little sad Mommy?
Then my daughter gave me a big hug and said "Do you feel better now?"
I realized later that I never mentioned the "D" word. I skirted around it. Somehow saying "dead" sounded harsh and final, but the kids would only have the meaning that I put on it. I suppose I was avoiding too many questions of explaining what "dead" really means. A full explanation of it seemed too much, but the next day I said that "Dune died". Boo just repeated it..."he died?" And that was it...for now.
So now we have just one, nearly deaf dog padding around the house and a cat that is deathly afraid of toddlers. I always wondered who would be left out of the merged-family menagerie we started out with (4 dogs-3 cats), and ironically, the animals that were mine (which seems odd to say now) are the ones still here. Dune will be missed tremendously, just like his sister Boston, and his brother Zeus, but life does go on. The kids make sure of it.