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Love, Loss and Critters

Life brings you joy and sadness in the most unexpected of ways. How we handle love and loss is different for everyone. The game will play out and the pieces will move across the board whether you want them to or not. This is the story of love, loss and critters. The story begins with Joxer the Mighty, a very stubborn chihuahua, and ends with a very sad guest appearance.

Joxer was my little buddy, my ankle biter and my ride or die travel pal. He didn’t give a shit about what anybody thought about his life and less about their opinions. He would spread his cheeks and lick his butthole in the middle of a crowded room like a rock star porn king or violently hump his plush elephant in a voyeuristic nature just to give you a penny peek show. The only thing he asked for was a standing ovation. Joxer was a pudgy little fella, brown with white spots and a bright red tongue. We all face challenges in life and his was only having one lung. My older brother accidentally crushed him when he was a puppy. He never allowed his lack of a lung to slow him down. Joxer was a stubborn bastard. I miss him every day.

As we age, our gas tanks run low and his was almost on empty. I was mentally prepared for when his engine would stop. It happened one weekend while visiting my parents. I looked away for only a moment and he snuck away like a silent ninja. He could barely walk, yet he found enough strength to run away. My best guess was that he dashed into the woods, used the Jedi force to disappear and left only his dog collar behind. He chose when he wanted to die and didn’t want anyone to see him do it. I searched for an entire day, but I knew in my heart that he was gone. I was not upset. I was happy that he went out on his own terms. I will always cherish our adventures together. We lived in the mountains of Birmingham, Alabama and hiked to a waterfall. We lived in Saint Cloud, Minnesota where he bravely leapt into a snow drift head-first without knowing what snow was. There were dozens of moments like these, all were more amazing than the next. He was fearless. He walked into the woods for his last adventure and I wasn’t invited. He had lived a full life and I understood that. Why did I not cry my eyes out when he left this world? I honestly don’t know. Maybe because I knew he was happy, at peace, and adored by all who remember him.

To this day, I often wonder why I didn’t cry. Was I broken? Was I heartless? No. I get sad when I accidently cut a lizard in half with my weed eater so that’s not it. The human heart doesn’t allow you to choose your emotions, it chooses them for you. Recently, a young cat died in my arms. I found her lying in my yard and struggling to breath. I picked her up, she purred, and then Baby Kitty reached up to me with her small white paw. I teared up. She smiled big before her soul left for kitty heaven. Was she waiting for a kind face before passing on? There was no time to save her. All I could do was provide comfort, a smile and lightly stroke her fur. She was a stray kitty with no name, no family and no one there but me. I was sad and cried often for days. This little kitty was scared and dying, but not alone at the end. Baby Kitty was at peace and took her last breath in my hands. I buried her with a handful of wildflowers and a prayer. I was heartbroken for this little creature that I had seen around the house twice, no relationship with, no years of memories and no grand adventures. Why can I not stop crying? Seriously, what the fart! Am I broken?

I wonder, is it better to go out like a baller, like Joxer, or sink gently into the abyss with a stranger holding your paw, like Baby Kitty? I want both. Can I have both? I’d rather be prepared for death than have death thrust upon me. I want someone there to hold my hand, hug me and then wave goodbye as I walk into the woods. I’m Joxer. I’m Baby Kitty. I have many years behind me, and many left ahead of me. I have lived a full life. I have been in this world a very short time. I will leave with an annoyed sigh and my paw high in the air.

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