A couple of days ago, my ex called in the afternoon to talk to Lucas, as he does from time to time. When Lucas asked about his pet Ringo, a very sweet dog that was a mix of stray dog and Weimaraner, my ex told him he had passed away the previous week. At first he didn't sound so sad and kept chatting about other things with his dad, and hung up minutes later. Only then he seemed to realize what happened, and came to my lap with tears in his eyes. My heart sank. Lucas seldom cries, he's the kind of boy who's always smiling and feeling great about himself. Even when upset for any reason, it never lasts long. But he got Ringo as a present when we were living in Minas, in March, 2009, only a few months before we moved back to Petropolis in August of the same year:
They were always together while we lived there, on the two occasions Lucas went to spend vacations at his dad's, Ringo was there to play with him. My little witch was always talking about him and how much he would enjoy meeting his pet again in July, his next school's vacations. Not happening anymore.
It's not easy to say goodbye to a friend, furred or not, even when it lives seven hours away from the owner. I think it was even harder this way, because Lucas couldn't do things the proper way, burying him, and being sure he was well treated in his final time. So I knew I had to do something about it, to at least fill the gap in his heart, and make him feel less helpless. So I told him we could say goodbye here at home, making a little ritual to Artemis over his altar, asking Her to take good care of him. Thank the gods he agreed with that, and decided making it all his own way:
He made a drawing portraying a smiling Ringo and wrote above it, "Be a good dog, Ringo. Your owner, Lucas. I love you.", and also a little pentagram below (heart-breaking to see his cute boyish handwritting). Then he folded the paper and put it into his cauldron, asking me to pour some alcohol so I could burn it later for him.
I poured some milk and honey in his chalice as an offering to Artemis, and he took one of my white candles to carve Ringo's name on it.
Then I lit the candle and burnt the paper in the cauldron. He asked me to let him pray for the goddess by himself, and I respected it, leaving him alone while he opened the circle on his favorite way (reciting while moving his wand deosil, "by the power of Earth, by the lightness of Air, by the warmth of Fire and the purity of Water"). He took long minutes in front of his altar, and then, with tears wetting his face, he allowed me to return and take a couple of photos of the burning candle and cauldron.
He had seen the Rainbow Bridge site when my friend Vaith talked abou tit, and asked me if he could create a virtual pet memorial, and of course I said yes. I couldn't afford to make it on te RB site, so we made a quick research and he found a simple free site where he posted his dog's photo, and wrote a goodbye line. Somehow making this comforted him a bit.
After watching the fire for a bit longer, he finally went to bed, asking me to lay in bed with him until he fell asleep. So I stayed there, literally drying his tears that seemed like never stopping to fall from his closed eyes, until I noticed he was sleeping. It's been a long time since I had such a long, difficult hour.
But the bottom line is, this was important for him. It was important to be comforted by me, to be hugged and to feel loved and safe to express his sadness and pain for losing his beloved doggie. It was important to make his ritual, to be in touch with the Goddess and feel his connection with the departed soul somehow.
It would be easy for me to simply try to distract him from this sad moment, not talking about it so he would put it in the deepest part of his mind and move on, but it wouldn't be fair, it would be like Ringo wasn't important for him and he wouldn't be allowed to grieve and mourn. A crucial step would be skipped. The feeling would be always there, scratching his heart. The way we did, he put everything in the right perspective, starting and finishing a process that needed to be lived.
He still feels sad when talking about Ringo, or when he sees a black dog in the street, and I know that he will avoid for some time Pretinha, the stray dog at the transversal street close to home, because she looks so much like his dog, but I know that he'll move on, not skipping any step, and he learned to honor a beloved friend that was gone, just the way it must be.