I was maybe 19 years old and living in my first apartment. One day my mom called and asked if she could come over. Of course.
When she arrived, she said, "I'm the bearer of bad news."
Instantly all of the possibilities flooded my mind. Then she said, "Ruffles died."
Ruffles was the dog we'd had since I was six. She wasn't pretty by worldly standards, but she was ours. The first dog I'd ever had. I didn't know the Lord at that time, but I knew she wasn't going to "doggie heaven" and I'd never see her again. This was really the first loss in my life. One of my grandmothers and an aunt had died, but I was either too young or not very close, so it didn't affect me much.
I remembered the day Ruffles became ours. My uncle was working at a garage, and one of the strays had had puppies. We went to see them, and for some reason we chose the runt of the litter.
I remembered playing in the back yard with her.
I remembered the day I was sick, and she was lying on the floor outside my bedroom door. Mom came to bring me a tray of food and tripped over Ruffles. Applesauce and milk were everywhere. (It wasn't a happy memory, but it was a memory nonetheless!)
I remembered that my friend always said that she looked like a rat.
Mostly, though, I remembered the day we all got sick in the car. My sister and I were in the back seat, with Ruffles between us. She had her head resting on my lap. Suddenly my sister was puking. When I saw that, I started, too. Somewhere in there I looked down and saw that Ruffles had, um, deposited her lunch in my lap.
My parents were in the front seat. Dad was trying to drive, and Mom couldn't stop laughing. It didn't seem funny at the time, but it is now.
I took a while to stop mourning the loss of my first dog, but now I can remember her with only happy memories. I wish I could say that the experience helped when my cousin, my father-in-law, my grandfather, and my uncle died. Each loss is a new thing, and I have to learn all over again.
I have photos of Ruffles, but finding, scanning, and uploading them would take way more than five minutes.
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