I do not talk about my brother-in-law much. I should. My brother-in-law is kinda like my safe deposit box. He holds and protects one of my most valuable treasures. My sister, and her children. While my brother-in-law is in possession of the safe deposit box, only a select few hold the key.

Belle is one.

The loss of a pet is one of the most challenging things one will go through in life. It’s also one of those things where there is no quick recovery from. It’s a process.

Sam was a beautiful Siamese that joined my family on a whim. We brought him into our home, we loved him, we took care him. Sam depended on us, and we depended on Sam.

Sam was a jumper. You would not have to look far to find him. Just look up. He would be there hanging out somewhere. Whether it was in his cat tower, or a bedroom closet. He was there. You just had to look up to see him.

When Sam started to lose weight, we figured it was just the cat food. He’s a picky eater. We tried so many different brands of food. We tried so many different types. No matter what we did, Sam would not eat.

What was supposed to be a routine visit to the vet, was anything but. Sam had kidney failure. Our options were next to nothing.

Our vet gently explained that we could put him down, or we could try to give him intravenous fluids three times a day.

It was an easy choice. I was not ready to let him go, and I knew, Sam had a little bit of fight left in him. Even if we had to look up to find it.

Three times a day, we had to administer fluids to Sam. It was a three-person job. His IV bag was secured to the wall, while one of us grabbed the skin on his neck, and the other gently administered the fluids. Sam hated it, yet when it was all said and done, he felt better. He was starting to eat more and we figured we were out of the woods.

Then, out of nowhere, Sam stopped eating again. The IV fluids were no longer working. We tried everything. Tuna, soup, broth, we tried it all with the hopes that Sam would eat.

I was running out of hope. Sam was down to skin and bones, no longer using his litter box. Our vet told me “Sam will let you know when it is time.” I knew Sam would tell me to look up when it was time.

One night I was on the computer listening to music. I played the song “Praying For You” by the Katinas. Sam got up from his permanent spot on the bed, jumped on my keyboard and just laid there….looking up.

I knew. I knew this was Sam telling me it was time.

Calling the vet in the early hours of the morning, explaining to her in between tears that “It is time” was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Even as I write this, ten years after the fact, I still cry. But…I knew. Sam told me, “It’s time.”

We took him to the vet that day. Immediately we were ushered to a private, quiet room. Our vet came in, with tears in her eyes, and explained the quick and painless process. Joe, Vinnie and I all surrounded Sam as he closed his eyes here on earth and woke up in Heaven.

Joe was very adamant about burying Sam at his parent’s house. I cannot fully explain to you the pain, the hurt, the anger I felt, leaving the vet with Sam’s body wrapped up in a baby blanket I had used for both AJ and Vinnie. No one said a word as we made the drive from Federal Way to Tacoma to put Sam to rest in his final resting place. I remember, driving, looking at the passenger window, looking up.

I was a mess, I was changed. We all were. To this day, I still have the last of his IV bag safely wrapped up in the back of my closet. All I have to do is “look up” and there is Sam.

As the years went on, Joe and I ended up losing four other cats. One died in Joe’s arms, with a 9 month pregnant me crying in the corner. One cat died in Vinnie’s arms, as Vinnie was laying on the floor, knowing, what was about to happen, arms wrapped around his beloved animal.

No matter if it is one, five, or twenty-five times, the loss never gets easier.

You have to go through the grieving period. You will have sleepless nights, and when you finally do fall asleep, you will not want to wake up. It’s too hard. It’s too hard to be in the here and now when you know what you have just lost…and yet, you keep going.

People will try to tell you things to make it okay. You will most likely want to punch them. There is seriously nothing anyone can say or do to make the loss of a pet any easier to deal with. It is a process. A process that deals with grief, sadness, guilt, anger. It is a long daunting process.

This is what I have learned. All those hard days. The days when just shopping for a gallon of milk in the grocery store is enough to put you in the fetal position not wanting to get up. The days when you do not even want to shower, you do not want to go out, and you most certainly do not want to laugh, all those days are part of the process. Because, each day, each horrible ugly day that you deal with, at the end of it all,  will be those days that give you your strength.

One week ago my sister and niece lost their beloved family dog, Belle. Right now they are in the thick dirty trenches of it. My heart breaks for them because they are broken. Eventually, they will be okay. They come from strength. Carolyn and Alyssa are all too familiar with how this works. Right now, right now is the hardest part, and we, as her family and friends, we will be there to see them through this. Just like they were there to see me through Sam.

I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what Rainbow Bridge is like.

Rainbow Bridge is just another name for Heaven.

Last week, as Belle was in her final hours here on earth, there was quite a commotion happening up at Rainbow Bridge. The welcoming committee had to be in place. This was direct orders from “The Big Guy.”

Sam, well, he was in charge only because he had seniority. It was Sam’s job to make sure Belle had a pretty spectacular welcoming. She deserved it. They all do, but Belle, she was an extra special case.

Callie, their beloved cat who went missing just a few years prior, would be the first to welcome Belle and show her the ropes. Callie will show Belle the special cloud that she can sit on. This special cloud is reserved for the newcomers. It’s their special place where they can sit and look down on their family, and let them know in their own little way, that they are still there, watching over them.

All they have to do is look up.

I feel for my sister and my niece. I know their pain. Most of us do.

I am thankful though that I could not ask for a better protector of my safety deposit box. my brother in law has his family safely secured…..and little Belle, up in Heaven, is watching us all, with the key safely secured to her heart.

And if you look close enough, if you look up, you just may be able to see her.






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