I began writing the following a few weeks ago, just before we moved back to our house upon the completion of our remodel.
Yesterday, the unthinkable happened. My beautiful dog, Olive, who had been with us since November and has shown us the kind of pet love I didn’t know existed, was killed in a hit-and-run outside our farm. The driver just kept on going.
Immediately, I drove the dog out to the vet, crying all the way – and after several procedures, Olive, who didn’t seem to have any broken bones, looked better. When I brought her home, however, she died within a couple of hours from what I assume was some sort of an internal injury, although none appeared on the X-rays they took.
Because this was happening right at bedtime, we went ahead and put our kids to bed as usual, not telling them that the dog was already gone. After this, my husband took Olive’s body back to our farm so that we could give her a proper burial the next day. We didn’t tell the kids what had happened until the following morning.
I originally thought that it’d be best for Jacob to bury the dog alone, but he felt that including the children into the job would provide a much better sense of closure for them, and he was right.
For the grave site, we chose a corner of our farm where milkweeds grow like crazy and where no tilling or haying ever happens. It was also here that our builders dumped the bricks from the chimney that had been taken apart in my kitchen, and we knew just the use for them.
We told the kids that Olive would turn into a milkweed plant and then into a monarch butterfly and go to Mexico. There is something incredibly life-assuring in understanding the never-ending journey we travel through the great cycle of life. It’s comforting to know that nothing comes from nothing, and that everything is a tangible, organic part of something that had been there before.
The princess could sense the solemnity of what was going on.
The big kids took turns digging and burying.
Then they began to build a gravestone with the chimney rocks.
This isn’t really a lasting monument, but that wasn’t the point.
On the way to the rest of their lives!
There’s no argument that Jacob’s an exceptional spouse, father, and provider, but I was especially moved and impressed watching him handle this farewell in a way that nourished his children emotionally. The gentleness, the reverence, the no-nonsense invitation to tackle this project and move on – all the components were there. I couldn’t have asked for a better goodbye, and I certainly couldn’t have asked for a better partner in life.
Goodbye, Olive! You were a loyal friend, and you are sorely missed.