Sunday, March 31, 2013

beyond the veil

"Has anyone you've known ever died?"
"Yes," said Luna simply, "my mother."
..."I'm sorry," Harry mumbled.
"Yes, it was rather horrible," said Luna conversationally. "I still feel very sad about it sometimes. But I've still got dad. And anyway, it's not as though I'll never see mum again, is it?"
"Er--isn't it?" said Harry uncertainly.
She shook her head in disbelief. "Oh, come on. You heard them, just behind the veil, didn't you?"
"You mean..."
"In that room with the archway. They were just lurking out of sight, that's all. You heard them."
They looked at each other. Luna was smiling slightly. Harry did not know what to say, or to think. Luna believed so many extraordinary things...yet he had been sure he had heard voices behind the veil too...

     -- J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

on March 22nd i had to face the most difficult thing i've ever dealt with so far in my life. my beautiful baby dog, the love and light of my life, equal parts child, friend, and protector, died in my arms. less than three weeks before we had gone to the vet for a routine teeth cleaning when they discovered her B.U.N. and creatinine levels were at dangerously high numbers, despite showing no symptoms. charlotte immediately went into aggressive treatment to save her failing kidneys. she was doped up to calm her anxiety at being at the vet without me and had an IV and catheter in. it was a pitiful sight. after five days, the vet informed me that she wasn't responding to the treatment, was getting worse, and had little time left. i am fortunate enough to have a job that let me call in to say i couldn't come in until either the angel of hope or the angel of death swooped down on us. i spent every second of the last week and half of her life with her, cuddling with her on the bed and trying to hand feed her every type of food under the sun. nothing worked. she was getting weaker and weaker until that friday, when blood started pouring out of her nose and the vet said it was time. i made a clay mold of her paw print and told her how much i loved her and what a good person she made me every day. she died a few hours later on our bed, her head in my lap, surrounded by the people she loved the most and johnny cat, her sweetest sibling. my dad built her a beautiful coffin, and he and harry dug her grave in my parents' backyard. i buried her with her favorite toy and blanket, and my most cherished childhood stuffed animal. she was only seven years old.
the last week and a half have been part daze, part nightmare. i feel a constant sense of anxiety, like i've let her outside and forgotten to let her in, or that i need to remember to feed her, to give her heartworm medicine, to take her on a walk. the absence of her 70 pounds on the bed has kept me up until at least 3 am every night. i realize that i am incredibly lucky: i still have harry, my cats, a sweet stepdog, an understanding family, and awesome friends. but i feel like my purest source of happiness and the greatest love i've ever given and received is gone. the core of my identity and a very large piece of my heart feel totally shattered. i dread the day when her little orange hairs, still currently stuck to pretty much everything in our house (even one between the keys on my keyboard as i type), can't be found anywhere.
but the strange thing about growing up catholic, even if you haven't practiced in years, is that your mind is always open to the mysterious and the mystical. you are taught so many extraordinary things as fact that as you grow older you don't tend to scoff at unrelated things other people find extraordinary. or at least this is the case for me. i've never spent a great deal of time wondering about death or the afterlife but it certainly is prominent in my mind now. after living with this beautiful creature for five years, i know that she had a soul. and that her soul was not wholly dependent on the body it resided in, no matter how cute and cuddly that body was. i think most people who have watched a loved one actually die probably feel the same. so even though i miss that furry shell more than i can ever express, i know that the best part of her is lurking just out of sight.
see you beyond the veil, sweet charlotte.