For the very first time in five years and ten days, I got to sleep in.
My big, yellow, barking and unsilenceable alarm clock is gone: 6:40 AM came and went in silence.
We had to give Wheaton back to God.
Wheaton’s gift was giving love endlessly, in far greater measure than what he got; although with us, we made sure to let him know he was loved, every possible moment of every day. He loved people so much that when we had a visitor to the house, he would grab the first handy thing and run around like a nut with it in his mouth; like a little kid wanting to show off a favorite toy to a visiting friend. You never know what he’d grab: it was never a dog toy, but something else close by – like the TV remote, a glove off the entry table, or a book off the shelf in the office; once it was a VERY expensive set of binoculars.
For all of our dogs which have passed, I find myself writing poetry. It’s funny how the human mind works; the inspiration likely comes from knowing the inevitable is going to happen and then finding a way to cope with it.
Wheaton’s passing was different: it had to come quickly, as my poor buddy was in unrelievable agony. But a couple weeks ago, a piece of music came into my life which when sung one way is a gentle and beautiful lullaby, and when sung as a requiem with the grief which now weighs so heavily upon our hearts, becomes a beautiful, sweet, poignant sendoff.
The song came to me even more strongly as I remember that when we began the procedure and the anesthesia took hold, he laid over with a plunk, putting his head on my leg for one last bit of comfort and love.
Here is the song: In my mind, I have edited the lyrics to just include the ones that fit well; I now refer you to Sleepsong, by Secret Garden:
Lay down your head and I’ll sing you a lullaby
Back to the years of loo-li lai-lay
And I’ll sing you to sleep and I’ll sing you to morrow
Bless you with love for the road that you go
His sleeping-spot on our couch is bare and cold.
May there always be angels to watch over you
To guide you each step of the way
His favorite toys lie about, right where they were left, untouched.
To guard you and keep you safe from all harm
Loo-li, loo-li, lai-lay
The house is darker and colder without his bright, sunny-natured presence. It’s been five years, almost to the day, since God brought Wheaton into our lives. We rescued him from abuse, and loved him well, every single day. And he loved us back, just as deeply, if not more so.
May you bring love and may you bring happiness
Be loved in return to the end of your days
I tear up as I am before God and say in Wheaton’s behalf, “You loved us so much, buddy. And we loved you so much, too; you were the best Golden, ever, and will be in our hearts forever.”
His collar lies in a box by the back door; the collar that I put it on him and said, “Wheaton, this says you’re our forever dog!” Then he shook his head to jingle it, and ran up and down the hallway with his hippity-hop gait…
Now fall off to sleep, I’m not meaning to keep you
I’ll just sit for a while and sing loo-li, lai-lay
That collar lies now in that box, never to be worn again.
This morning, I began the slow, painful process of picking-up.
I moved his “woobie”, the big pillow that he loved to grab and hug, then grab part of it in his mouth like a little kid cuddling and sucking a security blanket; I took it up to the dining room and put it in a corner.
I picked up his toys and dropped them back into “Wheaton’s Toy Box”, by the back door.
I gathered up his food and water dishes and those are now running through the dishwasher.
There is a temptation to say, “we only got five years with him “. But the reality is that we got five GREAT years with a wonderful, loving, Golden gift from God.
I’ve had to do this nine times now, and it never gets easier. And it never hurts any less.