Posted in Parenting, Reverse-parenting

Mixed-Feelings Halloween

Our dog died.

She was 15 and while we carried the guilt of leaving L with my parents when we moved overseas, we comforted ourselves with the fact that she was well-cared for. When she got sick last week and started going downhill, we did what we could but there is only so much you can do from afar. Then, she was gone. At least she isn’t in pain anymore. It’s been a harrowing week, ending in mixed feelings. Relief that’s she’s not in pain anymore, guilt for numerous things we could have done better and sadness that she is no more.

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R has been a blessing at such a time. Keeping her occupied keeps me occupied. She had a Halloween party at her daycare yesterday. She was a ladybug. I wasn’t sure if she’d even wear the wings and the headband. She isn’t the greatest fan of headgear and I doubted that she would trade her backpack for wings.

Her dad, who is the most upset of us all as he was very attached to L, cheered up just a tiny mite when he saw her all dressed up. He started taking photographs and exclaiming how unbelievably cute she looked. Always a sucker for compliments, R totally fell for it. She willing wore the wings (aka “wings bag” in place of the usual bag) and kept the headband on. Then she did something she never ever does. She posed for photos! She stood still and let us take her pictures for over 20 seconds! When she slipped into her ladybug boots, my heart stopped beating for a tick. She looked drop-dead gorgeous. Who knew she could rock a ladybug costume like that?

At the train station, in the train and all the way to the daycare, she received compliments and, boy, did she totally dig it. She accepted swapping her bag and hat for the wings and antennae without any hesitation. Yesterday was the naughtiest and noisiest she’s been at the train station. It was like she wanted people to look at her. Nobody seemed to mind it, so we let her be. Seeing her so happy cheered up her dad heaps.

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Children are great healers. You don’t realize it till you are in one such event. I’d told her that L had a ‘boo boo‘ and so she’d gone ‘night-night‘. We said ‘bye bye‘ to her. I know she didn’t understand much but she wished her goodnight and bid her farewell. She has only met L once and she was too young then, to connect with her. I wish they’d known each other more than just through a photo on the wall. Yet, for some strange reason, it felt good that she knew L by name and from the photo. Maybe because it felt like she wasn’t totally disconnected from the tragedy. When I told her what had happened, she recognized who I was talking about. For now, that is good enough.

I’d never considered how I would break the news of death to her. I never thought I have to do it at such a young age. We’re past that now. She is okay. She is helping us be okay, even though she doesn’t realise it.

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Author:

I used to wonder whether I could ever be a parent. Then I became one. I was handed a delicate little bundle that I was terrified of bringing home. I didn't know how to be a parent and I was sure 'winging it' was not the right way to do it. Little did I know at the time that there is no right way. The baby knew what she wanted and all I had to do was figure it out along the way. As she grows up, she helps me learn what I need to know... I just need to pay attention to her.

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