Guarding the Heart
Since our French Bulldog, Jean-Paul, passed away, I attend Pet-Loss Support meetings. My husband refuses to join me—that's alright. Some of them are entertaining, so I don’t mind going alone.
Last meeting, a man handed me a picture of his daughter's dead Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. He smiled at me in a secret kind of way.
"We called her ‘Fluff.’”
I almost smiled back. I could not imagine caring about a cockroach, even an exotic one. But human nature is strange, and one must guard the heart.
Lately, I find my eyes landing on the faces of a few male mourners, amazed by their nobility.
A woman with curly hair and an inexplicable yellow umbrella-hat stands up and sighs. She explains that her late rabbit was a confidante stronger than her father.
"Yes!" an attractive middle-aged man shouts.
I had a less-than-sympathetic father once. I wanted to shout “yes!” also.
Another symptom of emotional pain; removing my wedding ring before meetings, burying it in the pocket of my gym bag.
Jean-Paul died of old age, but looked so young. The day he died he could have passed for a puppy.
I tell my husband about how helpful the meetings are.
"Absolute bullshit!” he snips. This from a man who never swore before our dog died. Now he’s angered easily about so many things. Mourning a beloved pet can do this to regular people, quietly. They may lose a sense of scale—and sometimes, a sense of decency.
I’ll never bring home another pet. It would kill us.