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Friday, August 14, 2020

Being Human by Bea Tifton


Sometimes, being human is wonderful. Have you ever pondered the wonders of the universe, learned something new, or experienced those moments of profound joy?

But, light must have its dark. Our lives are a precarious balance of opposites, heavy and weightless, empty or full. Happy or sad. 

Something terrible happened to me recently. Something that left me shattered.  I lost my little Sammy. 

I rescued my little Sammy from a neglectful home. He had been through a lot. He was found wandering around after a terrible tornado a few years ago, and when no one claimed him, an older couple adopted him.  A few years later, the woman died, followed by the man six months later. But before he died, Sammy’s owner begged his daughter to take care of little Sammy. And so she was, as she said to me, “Stuck with him.”  Finally, after three years of virtually ignoring the little guy, not even making sure her other dog didn’t eat Sammy’s food, she decided to find him a new home.

And so Sammy came into my life. He was skin and bones, badly in need of grooming, and very depressed. I knew little old man Sammy wouldn’t live to be a hundred. Such is the sad part of pet adoption. But I resolved to pamper and cherish him for as many years as he was with me.  Something about the little guy captivated me instantly. I was utterly besotted with him. 


Zoe, my little female Shi Tzu, loved Sammy, as did my cats. Bridget, my Chiweenie, and Liam, my Shi Tzu mix, not so much. They seemed jealous. I kept Sammy apart from Bridget and Liam, but Zoe was free to go play with him or sleep with us in the bedroom. I had a baby gate between the living room part of the house and the bedrooms. When I went to pick up curbside groceries and curbside pet food, Sammy went with me.
I took him out to the backyard separately from Bridget and Liam. And, at the end of the day, this quirky, gentle soul and I would sit in my big, white chair. We would smell the flowers and the breeze, watch the squirrels and the birds, and listen to piano music. It was our favorite time of day. Complete relaxation and peaceful joy. 

In July, I came home from a doctor’s checkup and couldn’t find Sammy. Liam and Bridget had apparently barreled through the bottom two hinges of the baby gate. Bridget bit him repeatedly and Liam shook him. I found him under the kitchen table. After a frantic trip to the veterinary ER and three tortuous days in the ICU unit, my little Sammy succumbed to his injuries and slipped away.

I was devastated. My doctor says I have “Acute Stress Syndrome.” I had to take something for a week to “Get me over the hump.” For days I lay curled up on the couch, watching one episode of “Murder, She Wrote” after another. I listened to the Allison Krauss station on Pandora. I took a lot of naps and had nightmares. I couldn't talk to my friends, except for one person who'd had a similar experience.

Grief envelopes people differently. For me, it was like a dark, heavy fog swirled around me.At times, it was a stabbing, unbearable anguish. And many people think grief is linear. It’s not. It’s a zigzag, making progress, then losing ground.  Bridget and Liam have been rehomed to a couple without kids or any other pets. Zoe and the cats are mourning, subdued and unsettled.



I’m trying. I rearranged the furniture in the kitchen after Bridget and Liam left. I threw away the baby gate. I smudged my home with sage and sweetgrass. I began writing again. My friends and family will be glad to know I’m showering regularly as well. But this horrific experience will take a long, long time for me to get over completely. Sometimes in one’s life, a “Once in a Lifetime Pet” comes in. That one pet that, for some inscrutable reason, makes more of an impact and is harder to get over. I love my pets deeply and mourn them deeply as well when they leave, but little Sammy. Oh, little Sammy. 

I have yet to sit out in the evenings again. But someday, I’ll be able to go out at dusk, sit in the big, white chair, smell the flowers and the breeze, watch the birds and the squirrels, and listen to piano music once again. Just being human.





  1. I am so sorry that happened to you. Be kind to yourself.

  2. I'm sorry for your loss. We do love all our pets but sometimes a special one comes along that is more in tune with our life. I'm glad you are writing again. Yes, showers are good, too.

  3. what a horrible loss. So sorry to read about it. I relate in the sense that we lost a beloved cat this spring and it still hurts. Heck, one we lost in 2013 still makes me cry if I think about it. Just glad Sammy had as good of life as he did for that period of time.

  4. Oh, Bea, I'm so sorry. Been there. Done that. Still want to cry. Take care of yourself, and don't try to push through your grief. It won't help. You don't "get over" grief. You learn to live with it, but it sucks.


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