Kita waiting for a ride up the mountain

Loss is a part of life, but it can cripple us temporarily. This past weekend I lost my pet.

It was sudden. We didn’t even know she was ill.

Apparently, she had liver cancer, and by the time she displayed any symptoms, it was too late.

To some people, losing a dog may not be that big of a deal, but for me and my husband, this weekend we lost not only a pet, but we lost a member of our family–a member of our family who we thought would live at least a few more years.

Sitting on the living room floor, petting Kita for the last time as the sun shone in and warmed her coat, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favorite poems: “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop.

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it
 was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have li
ed.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Part of me feels silly for being so overwrought over a dog. I can hear other voices in my head saying, “she’s just a dog.” But that’s the thing about loss…a pet, a parent, a friend…there is still an absence–a hole–a loss that we grieve.

Eventually, the pain subsides and we continue. This loss, and others to come, will not be a disaster…it will just feel like it for a while.

Kita with her hedgehog. 2002-2012

~ K

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