“Grandma, he was my best friend,” as I yanked a facial tissue from the Puff tissue box opening to wipe the tears that were trickling down my granddaughter’s cheek. All I could do was console her as she cuddled up beside me on the couch in her living room.
My granddaughter is now eight years old and her best friend was her dog, Capone (a boxer). She says he was her best friend because she has no sibling and he was the one she greeted every morning after waking up with her smile and he with his big old bright eyes responding to say, “Thank you Sidnie for caring about me.”
Sidnie’s parents got Capone approximately three years before she was born. He was the runt of the litter and he kind of grew on you. He was a playful dog. I can’t say he was a dog that would protect you but he was a dog that you would grow to love.
Capone was up in age, and he became sickly. Sidnie’s mother had been taking Capone back and forth to the vet. She tried to prepare Sidnie the best she could for the day of his death. And that day came last week when Capone took his last breath. Sidnie’s mother wasn’t sure whether it would be a good idea for Sidnie to see her best friend lifeless, so she informed Sidnie of what to expect if she wanted to see her best friend for the last time. Sidnie insisted on seeing Capone. As she walked slowly outside, Sidnie looked and knelt down beside Capone. Then she petted Capone’s lifeless body on his head. Her mother told her if she wanted to say something to him, that it would be alright. She whispered something to him as me and her mother waited. Then she rose up and wrapped her arms around her mother and wept. I walked back into the house with my granddaughter as her mother prepared to take care of Sidnie’s best friend. Sidnie went into the bathroom to wash her hands and afterwards, she just seemed to be inattentive for a while. She suddenly pulled away, laying her head on the arm of the sofa. And as quickly as she pulled away from me, she suddenly cuddled back up into my arms.
She looked up at me and said, “Grandma, this just don’t seem like the right time for Capone to die.”
I slowly and gently kissed my granddaughter on the top of her forehead and I responded, “Sidnie, when is the right time? God took your friend because he didn’t want him to suffer anymore. Capone was tired and I think his old body was ready to leave. Just remember, you gave him the love that he needed and he gave you the love that you wanted from him. Do you understand?” And again she nodded her head. “Your mother has been telling you that Capone is sick and he’s old. And now he is not hurting anymore. Just know that he is up in dog heaven, no more pain,” she shook her head for understanding and said okay. She cried a little more and continued to sit next to me for a while. She likes the Disney channel on television and we both concentrated on the show that was being televised on the TV.
I thought about the day before Capone had died. My daughter had told me that the veterinarian had given Capone some medication because he had not eaten in four days. My daughter stated he appeared more alert a few hours afterwards and I think that may have given my granddaughter hope that her best friend would be alright and he was getting better. That day was a warm and peaceful day. What more could you ask for? That was the day they both enjoyed being physically together for the last time.
God gave my granddaughter an experience of a grieving period at a young age for a loved one which we will all have to go through one time or the other. And we will all have to be prepared to leave our life here on this earth to reach for a more beautiful and meaningful life with God.
Nancy Evans-Gaddy is an author, poet, visual artist and retired licensed practical nurse of 40 years. She is a previous contributor to The Readers Write.