fam·i·ly [fam–uh-lee, fam-lee] –noun
|1.||parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.|
|2.||the children of one person or one couple collectively: We want a large family.|
|3.||the spouse and children of one person: We’re taking the family on vacation next week.|
|4.||any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins: to marry into a socially prominent family.|
Family can also be construed as a group who have very close bonds and perhaps live under the same roof. We might regard some of our blogging sistas as family. Close friends, servants, even pets can be family.
This week I lost one of my family.
She came to us in the autumn of 2005. She was no bigger than my hand, bony and shivering. The runt of the litter, I have to admit that I had no idea what to do with such a tiny bundle of fur.
With lots of love and nurturing she grew stronger. Her little body filled out and her personality emerged. She was in love with kitty, following her around everywhere and giving her lots of kisses. She and Jasmine became firm friends despite their size difference. She crept into our hearts and that is where she has remained. She loved to be cuddled and was very affectionate. She warmed the hearts of everyone who knew her, children and adults alike.
Being as small as she was, she could be exceptionally nervous. At least once each year she suffered a serious bout of gastro enteritus, which landed her up in hospital. She always got better fairly quickly and life went on.
Which is why, when she got a rash on her tummy last Saturday, we didn’t worry too much. Then her heart started to beat really hard and her face started to swell slightly. Despite these symptoms she was her usual spritely self, chasing Jasmine around the garden and full of beans. We took her for a check up just in case, and she was admitted for some basic treatment. That was the last time we saw her well.
In the days that followed, her body and face swelled to twice the size, she had to have a feeding tube, drip and a catheter to help her function. We went and sat with her so she could sleep peacefully (knowing we were there was comforting to her) and massaged her swollen body to try and reduce the swelling. When we said goodnight to her on Tuesday I was sure I would wake up to good news that she was on the mend and almost ready to come home. The Hoff and I went to work as usual with a view to visiting her at lunchtime when they were finished with the blood tests. (We figured that the more we visited her, the quicker she would heal) I got a call at about 9:30am to say that her blood pressure had dropped and she was getting cold. We rushed back home.
Upon arriving, we were told to wait. After about a ten minute wait, we were ushered into a room where we were told the bad news. Our little Amber was gone. After attempts to save her, her little body gave up and she closed her beautiful brown eyes for the last time. Our baby had died without reasonable explanation. When got to see her, she was lying peacefully with a blankie over her. It looked like she was sleeping. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, leaving her there. It just felt wrong.
Rest in peace little one – I look forward to seeing you again one day, to hold you and rub your tummy and kiss the top of your head. You went too soon, we weren’t ready and our hearts are heavy and aching. Our home is empty without you in it.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow;
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain;
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush;
I am in the graceful rush.
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.