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I realize now I forgot to put in the “Next week” teaser last Thursday. Well today’s topic is: The difference between the first death you remember and the most recent one.

When I read that sentence I immediately thought of my grandmother, who died when I was 14, and my mother, who died when I was 30. I started to write that scenario out in my journal but found I was unable to write. Or maybe it was an unwillingness to open old wounds. Whatever the cause I decided to switch from the human variety to the animal.

random pom

So the pictures I have of Taffy are packed away in the basement, buried deep in the photo album tote. This picture of a random pom is EXACTLY how I remember him. It’s from https://horizontalinthehammer.wordpress.com/category/domesticity/.

We got Taffy when I was 7 and he died when I was 21. The vet said it was a small miracle the Pomeranian lived for 14 years, especially considering we never fed him dog food: my mother would make a small plate of whatever we were having just for him. When he was very young he had stomach troubles so we were instructed to cook him hamburger with watery rice, which he devoured. Thus he developed a taste for human food at a very young age.

Taffy had always been more of my mom’s dog than mine. She was the one who was with him all day, as she was a stay-at-home mom, and so became his primary care giver. He loved all of us but Mom was his world. 

So when he died it affected Mom the most deeply. We were all sad but she was inconsolable for weeks afterward. I guess I was a little detached because he never felt all mine. William, on the other hand, was a different story.

A co-worker gave William to me in 1999 or so. She was unable to care for him due to allergies. He was about a year old at this time. She had rescued him from the Humane Society the day before he was to be put down. So she called him Lucky. But he was always William to me.

He was my best friend for 13 years. He was the only man in my life until my husband David came along. William fell in love with David even more deeply than I did, and the feeling was completely mutual. William was an only cat until 2004 when Gracie came into our lives. William put up with her, begrudgingly, and eventually fell in love with her too.

William always made me feel special. He was super friendly with everyone and paid David and Gracie lots of attention. But he always settled with me, it seemed. He would sleep on my pillow, laying across my head. He used to sleep on the pillow next to mine until David lay claim to it. But William was so good-natured he was happy to share.

We were devastated the day William died. It was completely unexpected and mercifully quick; the vet later voiced a theory of aneurysm. Neither David nor I could stop crying. We couldn’t go in to work. We spent the day on the sofa, holding each other and crying. He was just so dear to us. Even as I write this I can feel the tears coming and on March 13 it will be two years since his death.

It was such a contrast to my childhood loss of the family dog. William was mine much more than Taffy ever was. I was feeling what I’m sure my mother had felt all those years ago. And it only added to my sadness that I couldn’t talk to her about it, knowing she would so completely understand.

We are a family of four once again; Halley is the new addition and now the family feels complete again.

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But we will never forget our Sweet William.

willie face

Next week: Write a review of a novel or memoir you’ve never written.

This is the latest exercise in my 642 Things to Write About Project. Click on the link to find out more, or click on the category 642 Things to Write About Project to read past exercises.  🙂