This here bringer of the pooper to the fun party

“The one who taught me what love is”

photo of Chuck and Coco by Heather B. Armstrong for dooce.com

The whole Blurbodoocery is taking the Thanksgiving Holiday off starting in a couple of hours, and instead of the usual link roundup I do at the end of the week I’m just going to share one story, something I found yesterday that immediately put me into a holiday spirit when usually you have to drag me there kicking and screaming.

photo of Chuck and Coco by Heather B. Armstrong for dooce.com

I mentioned last month that my personal trainer had to put down her Pit Bull Gracie who had been battling cancer for several months. In the last few weeks of Gracie’s life my trainer dedicated every spare moment to her care, hand-feeding her several times a day, making every hour as comfortable for her as possible. She was there when she passed has since been totally traumatized with grief.

You can see the despair in her face, in the way her shoulders sit next to her ears. She’s been totally changed by having to say goodbye to what was her most loyal companion in life. She’s my trainer, yes, but she’s also a dear friend, one who completely transformed my body and my life. It’s hard to watch her struggle and not know how to help.

Yesterday I stumbled across a hand written letter from Fiona Apple to her fans in South America, one asking them to forgive her for postponing that portion of her tour. The reason? Her 14-yr-old Pit Bull is battling cancer and doesn’t have long to live:

I know that she’s not sad about aging or dying. Animals have a survival instinct, but a sense of mortality and vanity, they do not. That’s why they are so much more present than people. But I know that she is coming close to point where she will stop being a dog, and instead, be part of everything. She’ll be in the wind, and in the soil, and the snow, and in me, wherever I go.

I just can’t leave her now, please understand.

If I go away again, I’m afraid she’ll die and I won’t have the honor of singing her to sleep, of escorting her out.

You have to read the whole letter. It’s one of the most exquisite things I’ve ever read about the bond between a human and her pet. You will not get through it without crying. You won’t. And no matter what you thought about Fiona Apple before this letter, you cannot come away from those words without feeling that this woman is a gift to the world.

I sent a link to this to my trainer hoping that she could find some comfort and told her, “You were there for Gracie, and as traumatic as her passing was, you are the love that the two of you shared. ‘These are the choices we make, which define us.’ You made that choice. You made her feel safe and important. You are love.”

Have a great holiday. Hug your kids and your pets and your friends.

  • RyantheGirl

    Hoo boy, I recently lost my bunny Coltrane to cancer, and this letter just made me lose all semblance of control. I feel exactly the same way as your trainer… just unable to get past the grief. Love to her, and I hope everyone is thankful for their fur kids this Thanksgiving.

  • lam81208

    Thank you for sharing this. Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. We all need to remember those who matter most to us won’t be around for ever. Enjoy your family, friends, kids, pets, etc because no black friday or christmas list will ever bring them back when they are gone.

  • Sabine

    Dang it. You made me cry at my desk. My two gentleman cats are 14, and, well, I don’t really have to finish this sentence.

  • Dawn

    This brought tears to my eyes. Our dogs are currently 13-years-old and while I like to believe they will live forever, I know that the end is closer than we’d like.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  • Stephanie

    I have been a huge Fiona fan for years now- but have never been prouder to be one than when her letter first hit Facebook. There is just nothing as important as being there to help those who love you and who you have loved move on to whatever is next. We’ve done it with three of our dogs now and while it never gets easier I’m reminded that being in the arms of loved ones is exactly how I would want to go, myself.

  • Kimberly

    I read it yesterday and was a mess. Thanks for making me a mess again. Have a fabulous, comma filled Thanksgiving!

  • A few years ago, my parents and I had to put our family dog to sleep, and even though he wasn’t the best dog in the world, it was one of the hardest things I have ever done — walking into the vet with our pet, leaving with an empty collar. We actually didn’t stay with him for the procedure, thinking it would be too hard. I don’t think he would hold that against us, but given the chance, I would choose differently.

  • Miel

    I actually thought of your Chuckie post when I read this letter yesterday. Both made me miss my dogs SO much.

  • Wendi

    I had to put my best friend of 20 years down just yesterday and came upon this note from Fiona last night – already in a mess, it made me cry deeper, harder and longer but put it all into perspective. A wonderful, beautiful note that meant the world to me while going through this pain.

  • Michelle Torres

    When I read her letter this morning I openly cried at work. It was one of the most genuine, heartfelt things I’ve ever read… and I hope that your trainer finds solace in it too.

  • Thank you for sharing this at this moment in time.

  • Shannon

    I still marvel at how I’ve walked through my life now for over 2 years without my Kiton-Love. He was my best friend in cat form. I hope every night to see him in my dreams.

  • Maxly

    I hope her fans understood.

    We are losing our 16.5 year old kitty–he is the king of the world—or at least ours. We have good vets, and he is still sweet but this road is very, very short. He loves every day. That is a lesson to learn.

  • Is it going to be a train wreck when Chuck reaches his time? I hope by then the kids will be prepared for the event. Getting Turtle was a good choice – he’ll likely go first, and won’t have the same level of attachment.

  • sarananda

    Hey – I have had three out of five cats make it past 20. You may have plenty of time left with your pals!

  • Kelsey

    Touching!!!

  • Mrs OMG

    I have no idea who Fiona Apple is but that is one of the most moving things that I have read in a long while and a great comfort to a lover of animal or human. I’m in tears.

  • Denise in PA

    I didn’t even have to read Fiona’s whole letter, I cried reading your post. Happy Thanksgiving, Heather!

  • feeby64

    I woke up already feeling really emotional/in a good way and then I read your post. Things like this make me realize that not everyone sucks and life can be sweet. Thank you so much. You are an exceptional person.

  • karilynne10

    I read this letter on facebook this morning and as a dog (and animal lover), I thought it was the most amazing thing I have ever read. Give some extra doggie kisses tonight, you never know when the end is near.

  • cnico

    I read this a couple of days ago and I had to post it on FB so my friends would understand what my dogs have meant to me… I chose not to have the human kind, but I have had many of the furry kind. What Fiona wrote is a masterpiece and completely summarizes how I feel… I’m so glad you read it Heather… cus I thought of sending it to you for your trainer. Blessings.

  • cnico

    ps… when I lost a pet some years back, a friend of mine told me about an article he read that had concluded we spend more time one-on-one with our pets than we do with most other humanoids… and for that reason the loss can be extra special deep… and I can relate to that. I don’t think it compares to the loss of a human child by any means, but it can be very, very deep.

  • suz

    Beautiful.

  • Minh-Tam

    I was forced put my pitbull, Holly, down because of breed specific legislation in my city. We only had a year and a half together but I’ve never stopped missing her. She was my best friend and I loved her more than anything. The hole in my heart will never be filled but at least I can take comfort in the fact that I got to hold her in my arms until her last breath. The city gave me the option of putting her down myself at my cost, or taking her away and doing it on their dime. It was a no brainer. I couldn’t let the best friend I’ve ever had go away with strangers and die. It’s comforting to know that there are others who feel the same way about their pets. It doesn’t matter how long you have together, they touch your lives the instant they walk into your home and your life. Thank you for sharing Gracie and Janet’s story.

  • Wow. That is so beautiful.

    And by the way, your new design is fantastic!

  • Thank you for sharing this.

  • Marley

    I read this on Gawker and they were all snarky about it, like who gets all sad about their dog dying? I was so upset. If you are a dog person, or at least have half a heart, you get this through and through. My dog has gotten me through the worst of times. This summer she was paralyzed and we didn’t know if she’d ever walk again and she’s only 3. I got her into surgery in time and even then it was only a 50/50 shot it would work. It’s been nearly 6 months but she’s running around very happily right now. Don’t know what I’d do without her.

  • Jen Carter

    I read that letter a few days ago and it made me cry thinking of our Daisy Girl and the eventual loss of Clover Tuco. I’m glad, I’m heart-warmed by you finding the letter and sharing it with your friend. One of the most touching things that happened to me after Daisy passed away was to have one of the men I work with look me in the eye and tell me how he knew the sadness I felt and how he knew that Daisy had a good life because of me. I sat in my husband’s shop and cried for weeks. I kept her bed for months and I still have some of her collars. She sits on my nightstand now, next to her picture and I say good morning and good night to her every day. Am I crazy? I don’t care. I loved her more than most people in my life and as I write this, I’m cuddled up with a dog I never thought I could want or love after Daisy.
    Good for you Heather.

  • shan

    on a side note, has anyone ever told you you look like emily haines (the beautiful singer)… saw these this weekend and thought of you… just grow that hair a bit longer? and you share sharp chin genes!

    ; D

    happy holidays!

    Synthetica
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvEoYsNQ44Y#t=53s

    Help I’m Alive
    http://youtu.be/-1pCOR9Rv9M