Goodbye…and Hello by Ivy Helman

20151004_161012Dear Mini,

I wish, desperately, that you were still here.  I miss you everyday. My body aches with grief. Tears run down my face.

It was so hard to say goodbye.  Sometimes, I feel like I should have done more.  I always thought you’d live to be older even though you made it to (nearly) 16.  I couldn’t imagine life without you. Some days I still can’t.

But, the vet said you’d broken your jaw, probably from cancer.  You struggled to walk from the arthritis and now your balance was off.  The medication we put you on to help the infection in your jaw caused you to not eat for two days.  You were so skinny. I couldn’t even keep you comfortable anymore. You cried so much. I knew, even though I didn’t want for it to be time, it was.


Nevertheless, it was an agonizing decision – to put you to sleep.  I wish I hadn’t had to have done it. But, I know that you’d tried and I’d tried, Hana tried and the vet tried.  There just wasn’t anything else anyone could do.  So, Hana and I chose compassion to end your suffering.

That surely doesn’t make it easier.  You were my constant companion for an amazing thirteen and a half years. And, until Hana entered my life, you were the one stable part of it.  You left a big hole in my heart when you took a piece of it with you to wherever you are now. You also set a terribly high standard for any other dog that would come into my life.    

It’s been five months since you’ve been gone.  Life just hasn’t been the same. We’ve missed having you around and thought that maybe getting another dog would help heal some of our sadness.

IMG_9556So, three weeks ago, we said hello.  His name is Huckleberry Hafík.  He just turned two.  We adopted him from Slovakia close to the Tatra mountain region you so loved.  Someone had found him wandering on the border between Hungary and Slovakia. He spent five days alone on the streets before someone was able to catch him.  He’s a husky mix, and probably, according to Hana, also part border collie. He’s about 20% bigger than you were, but still small for either breed. After we picked him up from the shelter, we spent our first week together hiking those same trails we walked with you only a year and a half ago.  We already told him all about you.

Many people think he looks like you.  I did too initially.  In fact, when Hana had first suggested adopting him, I immediately said no as he reminded me too much of you.  But, as the months past, I came to believe that maybe those reminders weren’t such a bad thing. It’s nice to be reminded of you. It makes me smile.  He does look an awful lot like you.6340555747075180419_IMG_2532

He also acts like you often.  For example, he’s obsessed with your sister Gabbi, not that that would surprise you.  You two were always quite cat-and-dog like until the end when she’d sit with you to comfort you.  He also loves the taste of her food. Big surprise, huh? You loved it too! He’s quite determined like you were too, and can be quite stubborn when he wants to be.  Sound familiar?

But, he’s different too.  He’s not as independent as you were.  Quite the opposite actually. He doesn’t like when we aren’t around  He’s also a cuddle-monster. He absolutely loves belly rubs. Can’t get enough actually!  That’s different. He also doesn’t care much about eating as you did. Sure he loves bones, but his regular food he’d pass on.  His ears don’t stand up as permanently as your ears did. He can move them a lot more. And, he’s considerably more nervous about every situation and every change.  You always went with the flow.  

Hana and I talk about you often, perhaps even more so since Huckleberry’s arrival. It’s hard to remember that he’s not you, and we can’t expect him to be.

Hana thinks you led us to Huckleberry somehow, that you helped us pick him, that you had some role to play in us being his parents, and maybe you did.  I’m not sure one can do those things once you’ve died.  However, I hope there is more to life-after-death than my logical brain often convinces me there is.

Anyway, my dear.  I should be going for now.  Your brother needs to go out.  Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I hope there is no more pain and that you’ve found some peace.  Maybe you feel like you are sleeping well. Maybe you’ve been happily basking in the sun and chasing ducks to your heart’s content.  Maybe you imagine us there with you taking hikes through the mountains. Maybe you are playing like nuts with Maverick, Lily and Addie.  

You live on in our memories and always will, my little girl.  We love you. Goodbye for now.  

Ivy and Hana

P.S. Huckleberry says hello.


Ivy Helman, Ph.D.: A feminist scholar and faculty member at Charles University and Anglo-American University in Prague, Czech Republic where she teaches a variety of Jewish Studies, Feminist and Ecofeminist courses.  

Categories: animals, Death, Death and Dying, General, Grief, Healing, Loss

Tags: , , , , , , ,

10 replies

  1. So sorry for your loss Ivy. Tears still well when I think of little Mattakia and little Mitzi, dearly departed girls.


  2. Grateful Mini was so well loved.


  3. Oh Ivy, your thoughts and feelings echo my own when we lost our beloved Siamese cat Odin last year! I know what that ache of grief feels like, the constant missing them and the profound bond we have with our animal friends and family. We too, ended up getting another Siamese to help us cope and I found it strange (completely illogically) at first that he was not Odin.

    Before we got our new baby (Ragnar), I asked Odin to send us the right kitten for us, and I firmly believe he did. One of the reasons I believe this is that there must be an after life because on the third day after we had to have Odin put to sleep, I was lying on the bed crying and I felt Odin’s cold wet nose on my wrist and him breathing on my hand as he always did.


  4. Blessings for your loss and new puppy!


  5. Oh Ivy, sometimes I feel like losing a dog is absolutely the worst anguish in the world… each one is unique and each one offers us unconditional love… I know one thing – WE NEVER FORGET THEM.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve lived with many cats over the years and have had to have most of them euthanized. I have the ashes of four cats on my home altar. Cats often develop renal and thyroid problems, and my last female (Schroedinger #3) had failed kidneys. She died at home as I was petting her and telling her what a wonderful kitty she was. Heisenberg (#2) is a 19-year-old Maine coon mix to whom I give medicine twice a day.

    We become so devoted to the furry babies that live with us! We don’t “own” them, of course, because one soul cannot own another soul. We live together. And when it’s time for them to leave, we are heart-broken. Thanks for telling us about your dogs. Blessings to Huckleberry. And you and Hana.


  7. Thanks Ivy, for your love-filled post this morning, and the photos so deeply wonderful. Our pets, all of them to me, are nothing less than angels.


  8. Oh Ivy, I feel your deep loss. By the end of your story my eyes were streaming with tears, remembering my two beloved feline girls, Isis and Xena. We had them 20 years and they were appendages – but you know. Saying good-bye was excruciating, as you know. Isis left us 6 months before Xena, though Xena had been the one with chronic renal problems. We felt she hung on to get us past the grief of Isis passing, but the grief never leaves you entirely. One word, a picture, a memory can start the emotions and tears flowing. Like now.

    When we went to the vet to pick up Xena’s ashes a magickal thing happened. The vet was always slammed with people. Standing room only. This day the office was empty when Roy and I arrived. We sat down to wait for the receptionist and from behind the counter up popped a little kitty face. She couldn’t have been more the image of Isis and Xena if we’d drawn her ourselves. We said to Isis and Xena in their final hours to return to us and we felt perhaps they just had… Lilly. Of perhaps she was their emissary.

    Lilly is beautiful in her own way. She’s not Isis or Xena, but perhaps she’s influenced by their spirits we believe stay around us. We note the differences and unusual similarities constantly. Turns out Lilly was a stray left for dead on the steps of the vet’s office. Fortunately they fought for her and saved her so we might share this life together. Xena and Isis gave us so much – things you can’t imagine a pet companion has the ability to give. I want to share, the night Xena died, I had a dream of her. I saw her playing like when she was young and healthy and I reached out to someone standing beside me saying “Look, it’s Xena! Do you see her? When I look over to see the person I was speaking to, it was my mother who had passed the previous year. She looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of her for you. ”

    I can’t even tell you all the baggage and emotion and love and wisdom in that one dream. I don’t have dreams like this – hardly ever. It was one of those very special dreams. Xena’s passing taught me so much as you might imagine…..about forgiving, loving, loyalty, compassion….and we are not alone.

    Bless you and yours. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with such heartfelt emotion and giving me the chance today to share mine – and to remember all this and the gifts attached.


  9. This was heart touching!


  10. Beautiful.
    It has been three years and I still cry for my Atty. I’m crying as I type.
    I love my 3-year-old Riva and I still love my Atty, Jake, Sam and Snoopy.


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