Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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

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.


Blogger Madge said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger Vodka Mom said...

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

November 4, 2008 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Lucy Filet said...

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?

November 4, 2008 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 7:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"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.

November 4, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Jess said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 9:45 AM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

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

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

November 4, 2008 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Maddness of Me said...

Icecream does heal everything, actually.

November 4, 2008 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Kirsten said...

So sorry about the dog.

I'll send you some ice cream.

November 4, 2008 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger rachel... said...

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!

November 4, 2008 at 12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 12:49 PM  
Blogger the mama bird diaries said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 1:39 PM  
Blogger Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 2:34 PM  
Blogger Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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.

November 4, 2008 at 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really hope you got that Wii.

November 4, 2008 at 11:21 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

"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!

November 5, 2008 at 1:32 PM  
Blogger LivingLifeBackwards said...

You HAVE to take pictures of the white board...

November 6, 2008 at 5:01 PM  

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