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Little Free Library Tribute with backstory | Coping with Loss

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Little Free Library Tribute with backstory
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22 January 2018 - 8:13 pm
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Hello all,

I've seen some thoughtful tributes to beloved pets that have gone to the bridge...from flower and rock gardens to jewelry with a stamped image of a pawprint or the pet's likeness. There are so many ways to pay homage to wonderful, loyal, brave and strong tripawds who had to leave far too soon.

My 16 year old tripawd cat (Jerry) passed away a bit over three months ago. I decided to use my existing little free library to honor his memory as well as my son's (who the library is a memorial for). I placed a small gray tiger striped kitty inside the library for children to borrow when they come to my house to check out books. It's a hit in the neighborhood so far. In the spring I plan to plant some flowers underneath the library's stand and will add a stone garden cat as well. I've always loved the idea of having fresh flowers in the house but could never have them for 16 years because Jerry would jump up to where ever they were, and chomp away. The idea of a stone garden cat watching over flowers is amusing to me for that reason.

I will provide the backstory below for those who care to read it (it is not tripawd related):

Max's Little Free Library is a memorial for my 4 year old son Max, who passed away unexpectedly on Christmas Eve in 2005, after botched surgery to remove a brain tumor. When Max was a baby, we had a big, beautiful Boxer named Brutus that we had been a failed foster home for. We had gone to pick him up from his owner who was surrendering him, and by the time the two hour drive home was over, I knew this dog wasn't goin' anywhere. For the entire ride, he'd positioned himself uncomfortably in the passenger seat and just stared lovingly and whined while wagging his nub at the baby (my older son) in his car seat. Brutus LOVED my son to pieces but his devotion took on a whole other level when Max was born. For months, I couldn't so much as change a diaper without Brutus laying down beside baby Max to keep him company. He was right there when Max learned to crawl. He was there to help steady Max when he was attempting to walk. He camped out under his high chair at meal times. He took naps with him. Brutus followed Max 

E V E R Y W H E R E. You would not find one without the other.

When Max was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, we had to bring our Boxers Brutus and Samson to doggie daycare while we were at the Children's Hospital. When we picked the dogs up a week later, I will never forget how Brutus whimpered and whined all the way home as he stood in "his spot" in the cargo area directly behind Max's car seat (which was still in the car). Brutus sniffed and sniffed and sniffed the headrest. He ran around the house, almost in a panic, and was looking in each room for his boy. Obviously, he never found him. Brutus ate less. He wasn't too interested in playing. He spent much time sleeping or laying in Max's room (which he shared with his 6 year old brother). 

Two days after Max's funeral, I decided to take Brutus for a walk. I had been extremely distraught that morning in particular, because we had a meeting in another city with the chief medical officer and the two surgeons and their lawyers scheduled for later that day. I was not looking forward to it at all and during the walk I was talking to Brutus and crying. I was crying and telling him I was concerned for Max because I didn't know if he was lonely where ever he was. If he was confused, worried, missing us, afraid? And then I said this (and I will never forget it). I looked over at him as he pranced on the sidewalk and he did the famous Boxer head tilt as he listened to me. I said, "Brutus, I just wish he had someone with him to keep him company because then he wouldn't be alone."

Brutus and I finished up our walk and went into the house. I walked upstairs to send an email before gathering my things and the dogs to take them back to daycare for the day. When I sat down at the computer, Brutus went to sit down near my feet, and instead he stiffened, then collapsed. His breathing became very labored and he peed everywhere.

Already a wreck, I started screaming and called my dad and asked him to meet us at the vet's office. I can't put into words what a difference 60 minutes made. Brutus was PRANCING on our walk. But he appeared to have aged 10 years before my eyes. He could barely walk unassisted. He was examined, they took chest x-rays, they did an ultrasound and found his heart was enlarged and his lungs were full of tumors. This dog was literally the picture of health and poster boy for an adult Boxer. He showed zero signs and symptoms of being ill at all. He was play-biting his leash and dragging me up the driveway just an hour before. To say I was shocked is sorely inadequate. There wasn't anything I could do for him. No treatment. The vets recommended euthanasia. We did so and were numb. I couldn't believe that the dog I was counting on to help me after losing my son, was now gone too. But I quickly remembered what I had said to him on our walk an hour earlier. Was Brutus just giving me what I asked for? Was this DOG bestowing pretty much the greatest gift anyone could ever give a grieving mother - peace of mind? I didn't want my son to be alone and now his beloved dog was going to be with him. Was it just a coincidence? Did Brutus die of a broken heart? I won't know until the day I get to see them both again. The amount of tears I shed in that vet's office could have filled a bathtub. Twice. I was hysterical. 

While Brutus was not a tripawd, he was a wonderful dog who liked to chase Jerry Cat (who came to officially live with us soon after both Max and Brutus were gone). He will always be the most special dog I've ever had, who was a perfect example of the unique bond people can have with their pets. 

Hugs,

Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)

10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always

Virginia
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22 January 2018 - 9:32 pm
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Hattie, our dear, dear Hattie.  I feel like the world stopped and was void of all sound.  It was as though I was in a  "twilight zone" as I immersed myself in every word you wrote.   I cannot even begin to imagine the courage it took to write this...to share this with us...ito revisit some of the best of times and some of the most painful times anyone could ever endure.

I know that it is a courage driven by love, by purpose, by mission.   You witnessed first hand a bond between Brutus and Max that few would understand.  This bond is not of this earth.  It is formed long before Max and Brutus took on their physical bodies.  It was a bond that was meant ro continue in whatever form their Souls take.

We hear the terms, "one heart"  heart"one Soul"  heart "twin flames"heart   And now we can add ""Brutus and Max"heart

The gift that Max gave you is  something that only an enlightened Soul can give. I hope you can find an eternal.peace knowing that Max and Brutus are together.  Can you imagine how happy Max was when he saw Brutus running towards him?  And the joy in Brutus's little wagging nub as he saw Max running to him....it must have been glorious!   You gave Max permission to be with "his" boy.  I have no doubt that Brutus let Max know he had your permission to join him because you loved him so much.

There are no words that can do justice to what you just shared with us.  To say that we are honored to now be part of Brutus's  and Max's earthly journey is an understatement.  And, kf course, had it not been for Jerry Cat, we would not have had this privilege.heart

The tribute lobrary with the stone cat and flowers...priceless.   The pictures you sjared of your "two boys"...priceless.

Thanknyou Hattie.  Thank you for allowing us to share in this lovely tribute.  Thank you for gracing us with your presence, the presence of Jerry, Max and Brutus.  I don't think any of us will ever be the same.  We are touched and transformed.

Surrounding you with love and light...And a "knowing" that all is well with the boys...and Jerry too

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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23 January 2018 - 7:41 am
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I gotta compose myself before I say anything.. be backheart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry 

http://paws120......ipawds.com

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23 January 2018 - 9:39 am
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Hi Hattie,

That was indeed a very brave thing to do, thank you for sharing your story. Yes, everything stopped as I read your story. I had no idea, nor would I have ever guessed that had happened. You are an amazing woman to have experienced that kind of loss and made it through the way that you did. The pain of losing a loved one is so huge, I cannot imagine enduring losing a child and then your furbaby. It is really amazing how much our furbabies understand that so many never give them credit for. That truly was an amazing bond and I have no doubt Brutus went to be with his soul mate. You know that Brutus was sent to be your son's guardian angel, and he will be that forever, I have no doubt.

That picture of Max and Brutus shows true love, it is so precious. You can feel it coming through the picture, they were an amazingly handsome pair. And the library, what a wonderful way to pay tribute to your son by helping other children? Just no words to describe it. That library is just adorable, I would love to see it with the flowers and kitty decoration when the weather turns nice. I have a cherub kitty that is in my garden, I will see if I can find my pictures of it for you.

You took something that would break most people and turned it into something positive and giving heartSaying thank you for sharing that story just doesn't seem like enough but I cannot find any other words.

Sending the biggest of hugs,

Jackie heartheart

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry 

http://paws120......ipawds.com

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23 January 2018 - 11:04 am
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Wow. 

I read about Jerry and the library and thought about what an amazing thing you're doing - for Jerry, for the kids and for Max. That's truly special. 

Then I read about Max and Brutus, and ... I don't really know what to say. Amazing isn't nearly enough. There's no doubt Brutus heard you and took it upon himself to go watch over his best buddy. As incredibly difficult as that time had to have been for you, it's an amazing (again, not nearly strong enough of a word) story. 

Thank you for sharing. Max and Brutus and now Jerry have to be especially proud of their library. 

David and Rocky

Rocky had his right front leg amputated on Valentine's Day 2017 after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma.

He joined the September Saints on September 3, 2017.

He is the toughest, bravest, sweetest and best friend I'll ever know. 

The Rainbow Bridge

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23 January 2018 - 12:08 pm
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We are so honored you shared this with us Hattie. It took an enormous amount of courage to get this out into a post. Thank you for allowing us into your life in this way. Nobody should ever have to go through such unimaginable loss, I'm just so sorry that you and your family went through so much heartache. 

As pet people we like to believe that "animals just know" when they are needed to comfort humans. Max and Brutus story proved that this is so true. Brutus heeded the call to be a forever guardian to the child he was sent to earth to protect, and in spirit they are forever together again.That photo says it all, he was such an eternal gift to your beautiful boy and vice versa. I have no doubt that Max, Brutus and Jerry are watching from above, happy, playful and so proud of their mama. 

With many hugs & much love....

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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23 January 2018 - 2:44 pm
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to read the (long) post even though it was not tripawd related. It definitely was hard to write it, I had to work up to it, sat down a few times over the last week, but then couldn't really do it. But then I thought, you never know who might come across it and really need to hear something like that because it might resonate or be helpful to someone.

I should have added that I was really, really angry with myself for a long time, for "causing" Brutus's death. I assumed, when it first happened, that Brutus listened to me, ran upstairs and then collapsed and basically died for me. I was mad because I wasn't asking him to be the one to go...I don't even know WHY I said anything that day, because it's not like I wanted ANYONE that my son was familiar with, to die. I was just crying that morning, and talking about my feelings to my Boxer buddy. It was such a surreal day. My dad was so upset for me. No one could believe what happened, especially the vets who were aware that our son had just passed. I also should have made it more clear how close Brutus and I were to each other. He didn't pay any mind to my husband. But he followed me around too and was a real velcro dog. He obeyed anything I said. I loved both Brutus and Samson, but I was closer to Brutus. And it was so so hard to lose him too, as, like I said, I was really depending on him to help me navigate life without my littlest boy.

I checked my old CaringBridge site for more photos of Max and Brutus together, but I must have changed them out at some point. I have a ton. They are on an old computer somewhere, I'm sure. If I find them, I will post them. 

4250_1121302723410_7910189_n.jpg

Here's one of just my canine hero, Brutus, when we first adopted him. If his former owner only knew what she gave up...

25974_1368736629103_3892864_n.jpg

How annoying am I now that I finally know how to post photos after two years of being stumped! 

Thanks again for your kind words. It means a lot. I'll also post a pic of my library come spring time with the flowers and the statue.

Hope everyone has a lovely evening,

Hattie

Hugs,

Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)

10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always

Virginia
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23 January 2018 - 3:08 pm
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Qe looooove pjotos around here!!   You ppst away!  

OMD!!  The photo of Brutus and his boy A PRECIOUS TREASURE!!!   

Brutus is TRULY magnificent!!!   A stunningly handsome fella'!

Hattie, while I understand you feeling like Brutus exited because of you, I DO hope you realize what was really going on and that your words did not in any way, shaoe or form, influence his decision.  Brutus had your son's name stamped on his heart the day he was born.  The script was already written for Brutus and your son to be TOGETHER...no matter how or where.

Actually, it appears as though Brutus stayed with you long enough for you to, not only see how much he was grieving for his boy, but long enough to see how happy he was just hours before he decided to go be with your son.  I think he left with peace in his heart knowing you would understand his need to be with his boy.  I KNOW he KNEW he would still be "with" you too, so "leaving" you never crossed his mind.

And although the pain of sharing this with us had to be monumental, make no mistake about it, it WILL help others better understand their relationship with their furbabies and the unbroken connection we all share...we just have to be open to it.

I hope you find solace in knowing Brutus and your son are  still touching lives and still making a difference in ways that you could never knowheart

Again ,we thank you for your courage, your wisdom and your openness to what others may  not be able to grasp.  Then again, maybe after reading this they will find solace in some of their experiences that they never viewed this way until now.

Lots of cyber hugs from us all

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

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24 January 2018 - 1:34 pm
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Thank you Sally - that's a great way of looking at it!

Hope all is well with you and you are having a good start to 2018 smiley

Hattie

Hugs,

Hattie and Jerry Cat (right front leg and scapula amputation due to chondrosarcoma at age 14, lived 2 1/2 years post amputation, succumbed suddenly to suspected lymphoma at age 16)

10/2001 - 10/9/2017 R.I.P ~ Love you always

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24 January 2018 - 2:07 pm
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Sally has an amazing way with words! I sit here trying to type something feeling like I'm choking on my tongue and I look up at a post and she had nailed it on the head again! 2018 was a little rough starting on this end but I am hopeful that it will be a good year for all of us. Happy AND healthy!

Big hugs,

Jackie

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry 

http://paws120......ipawds.com

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