Feeling the sunshine on my face when I was outside today, I couldn't help but feel refreshed. Spring is just around the corner, I thought. Since all that fresh air and sunshine had rejuvenated me, I decided, once I came in, to tackle a little "spring cleaning"...specifically, my portion of the walk-in closet.
As I filled the heavy weight garbage bags with more and more, I felt good. I mean, after all, Goodwill and the Salvation Army were always on the top of my list when it came to donating. The third bag was designated for the womens shelter. I filled it with the more "professional" articles of clothing, shoes and handbags. Remembering back to the days when I could have used a hand, I knew that the women who would be able to use the shoes and clothes would find some comfort in them as they transitioned into a job and self-sufficiency.
Then, tucked way in the back on the end of the rack, I spotted something red. It was smashed up against the wall. What in the world? I thought. Grabbing a hold of the hanger, I quickly brought it into view. The leather collar was beginning to dry out. The sleeves, still cuffed from the last time I wore it, draped at the sides. It was my red barn jacket.
In an instant, emotions took over. Sadness made me draw a deep breath and exhale slowly. Then before I knew it, my eyes filled with tears. Drawing another deep breath and swallowing hard, I remembered all too well why I'd placed my once favorite red jacket at the back of the closest. It was to bury what was associated with it.
Once again, I relived the pain as the salty tears welled in my eyes and began streaming down my face. My mind replayed that night as if it was just happening. Grabbing a tissue and blowing my nose, I drew another long deep breath and remembered.
Once we were in the car, I played Beethoven's 5th Symphony. It was our favorite. Once inside, the receptionist took us in immediately. The aid came and took her down the hall to insert the port, while I agonizingly waited in her room. She returned as if nothing was any different, walking that jaunt that was unmistakably her. The jaunt that was so full of life.
Then, the Doctor came in an said, "You may want to sit on the floor and cradle her in your arms." She didn't have to say another word. I took off my red barn jacket and spread it down on the floor. "Kiera, down," I said. My dog, as always, obeyed immediately and was now next to me..resting comfortably on the red barn jacket Cradling her head in my arms, I tenderly kissed her on the forehead and said, "You be strong and brave. Wait for me. You nap now."
Kissing her again as she slowly drifted off to sleep, I tried to hold back the tears. Her body went limp and I knew it was over as the doctor listened for her heartbeat. She was gone. Sobbing uncontrollably, I rose and almost immediately fell into the doctor's waiting arms. Then she carefully lifted my German Short-haired Pointer's body, slid the jacket out from underneath her and handed it to me as we walked through the doorway. "Are you going to be alright to drive home?" she asked. Nodding, I put on my red barn jacket vowing that I would never wash or wear it again. I haven't up until now. It hung buried.
However, perhaps it's time. To me, Spring means to begin anew. Perhaps it is time to let go of the pain as well as the tears. Yes. It is time to wear my red jacket, to laugh and speak often of my dog, Kiera. Yes, laugh and speak of her as if she were beside me.