Monday, August 6, 2012

When Is It Ever Easy To Say "Good-Bye"?

                                Reflections On The Loss Of A Faithful Companion

At the course Baja Mar, close to Ensenada, MX.

The last post I wrote was about the loss of Donna Crean. Little did I know that just hours after completing that piece I would suffer a different yet heart-wrenching personal loss.
I am no stranger to severe grief and sadness.  As a young girl I experienced first hand how fragile life is when suddenly and unexpectedly, approaching his prime in life, my father was tragically killed in an automobile accident.  Forever emblazoned in my mind are the words my mother said to my ten year old brother Jeff and I as she woke us way too early on that Saturday morning of March 29, 1969: "I have something to tell you that is going to hurt you for a very long time, it will change your life forever."  And it did.  It also took me years to truly grieve and realize how very much I had lost.
In happier times.  You can see Royce as he peeks out from behind the seat of the cart.
Grief can invade our heart, our mind, and our soul as the result of a death, a move, a change or a loss of position or job, an illness or crippling disease,  or the end of a friendship or a marriage.  I'm also quite sure that my list is incomplete.   I have learned that grief has a season of it's own....we must not rush the process, neither we wallow in it forever.  We must be a student of our grief and we must learn to move on, embracing the fact that life is for the living.
  I have always loved the poem which I first heard in the movie, "Splendor In The Grass" starring Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty.

 What though the radiance
 which was once so bright
 Be now for ever taken from my sight,
 Though nothing can bring back the hour
 Of splendour in the grass,
 of glory in the flower,
 We will grieve not, rather find
 Strength in what remains behind;
 In the primal sympathy
 Which having been must ever be;
 In the soothing thoughts that spring
 Out of human suffering;
 In the faith that looks through death,
 In years that bring the philosophic mind.
     William Wadsworth 

As I mentioned above, my Saturday started out writing a blog about the recent passing of Donna Crean.  Upon completing my writing I continued with my morning's plans which are pretty routine when we are in town.  Saturday's are known as our golf day and we were not the only ones in the household who looked forward to this great outdoor adventure.  

Robert and I have been very blessed by the generosity of many people that we have met over the years.   Nearly seven years ago one such friend, Madeleine gave us the gift of golfing at her beautiful Del Mar Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe, California.   Since that day whenever we have a day off we drive the scenic one hour long trip down to the most beautiful and peaceful golf course in the world!  The club is "dog friendly" and thus our trusted little companion Royce had the joy of joining us for almost five years.   If for some reason (which was rare) we had an appointment or dinner engagement down that way I would have to sneak my golf tote bag out of my closet in order that Royce would not realize we were going golfing without him. 
 Saturday, July 28th was a more typical day in that and our cute little fluffy guy got to join us.   He excitedly headed out to the car as we loaded him in his kennel for the trip down South.  

The details that followed are not what I want to focus on.  What I do want to tell you is that in a bazaar, freakish series of events that followed after teeing-off the first hole, our faithful, loyal, loving companion of almost five years died right in front of us.  It was terrible. We had been on the golf course for only ten minutes.  To make it even worse, he died as a result of me running over him with my golf cart.  The entire accident and it's tragic conclusion took less than a minute and he died instantly as the result of a traumatic head injury.  The next three days were particularly difficult as I played that horrible scenario over and over in my mind;  the what ifs and the if onlys can drive us crazy if we let them.  I began to think about what people must feel like when they accidentally run over and kill their children.

Thankfully on Monday morning, July 29th we left our home on a planned business trip.  At that time I was still entertaining tremendous feelings of guilt and questioning myself and my abilities as a person.  I wasn't sleeping well and I could hardly complete a sentence without bursting into tears.  Like I said, some thoughts can drive you nuts if you let them.   On the first leg of our trip I decided to take out my journal and write.  This is what I came up with.

When accidents happen some people will ask, "why did God allow this to happen?"  I know that this is the wrong question but instead we need to ask, "where was God when this happened?"  Let me share with you where I saw God immediately following our horrific accident of July 28, 2012...

First of all I witnessed God in my husband's graceful, silent presence as his strong yet gentle hands reached down and lifted Royce's lifeless body off of the cart path.  I was in too much shock and pain to do so.

I saw God in the young golf pro's assistants as they authoritatively yet lovingly accepted and comforted us as we "delivered" our beloved pet's body over to them.   They reacted as though they had been prepared and waiting for a situation like this forever.

 God was in a lady named Ester, another member,  and her daughter as they entered the women's locker room and hugged me as I cried.   A hug from someone you don't even know is a very loving gesture which can be very comforting.

God was in our golf pro John and his staff when they told us they would take care of Royce's body and told us that they would bury him.

God was in my son Anthony as he arrived home late Saturday and delivered into my hands a bunch of beautiful white roses.  They were white in honor of Royce.

I saw God in our friend who is the manager, Chrissie for her compassion and understanding in allowing our Royce to be burred there. 

On Sunday afternoon when we returned to visit the burial site God was in my mom and her husband as they agreed to come along side and comfort us as we grieved.

I saw God in Kristy, the activities director and her staff as they greeted us with "we've been expecting you."  From the look of the young man standing next to her as his eye's revealed that he knew what we had gone through and why we were there.

God was in the greeting we received when we hesitantly boarded the golf cart again in order to drive up and re-visit the exact place where Royce met his tragic death.

I saw God in the loving young man who accompanied us up to and showed us the grave.

God was in the person's hands who meticulously removed the white rose bush and in it's place lowered our fluffy little white furred friend earlier that day.

I saw God in the greeting from our server in the restaurant as he told us, "I am so sorry for your loss." 

I saw God again in our golf pro John and his wife Gayle stopping by on their "way home from a party" to offer their condolences.  In John's sharing that they had once hit and injured their dog with the golf cart... somehow that took away a bit of my horrible guilt. 

I witnessed God in every single phone call, email, text, prayer, and word of support I received from family and friends who heard about out loss.  In the poem that was sent to me, "The Rainbow Bridge."

God is in reminding us that each day is a special gift so appreciate it and enjoy each and every minute. The ones you love so much today may not be here tomorrow.

God is in the continued loving generosity of two people who gift to us the privilege and the enjoyment of golfing at the most gorgeous, fun course in the world.  And for the the joy of allowing us to take our little buddy along for almost five years.  

Thank you friends and thank you God.  Royce is in his "happy place" forever. 
Royce's grave where we placed a single white rose, given to me earlier by our son Anthony.

When Is It Ever Easy To Say Good-bye?  My answer is "never".  Would it have been easier to see my dad die later on in watch him suffer some terrible illness that would ultimately take him after years of hospitalization and sickness? 100 years old after living a long, long life (as his mother, my grandmother did).   Based on what I've seen others go through with their parents, I would say not.   And as far as our beloved pets go, would it have been easier to have put Royce to sleep at the vet in ten or so years?  I cannot say it would have. 
In closing, no matter what you go through in life do not ask God why he allowed it.  Ask to seek where He was and where He is,  in your good times and in your painful ones as well.

God is blessing you.     Donna


  1. My thoughts and prayers go out to you at this time of sadness. God was there in so many ways. I'm glad that you and Robert got so much support and comfort from others.
    My cat died two and a half years ago and I missed him so much. My dad died ten years ago this July from an accident and it brought back many memories of him and the sadness of his passing.
    May you continue to feel God's presence as you grieve.

  2. Very touching story. Thank you for sharing. Our pets become part of the family, and are very hard to lose. A number of years ago, I believe a movie came out called "All Dogs go to Heaven." I believe that. You'll see your little friend again. On that great and glorious day, I can just imagine you in line to meet our Savior, and your little furry friend runs up to you to greet you as you wait. Why not?


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