Cha, Memory

I wrote this during my first year as a blogger. She is Cha, but she is Sascha. She was the initial life force behind this blog. The loss of  “Cha” and my beautiful sister-in-law in 2016, who we lost to suicide, made me become a blogger for better or worse. Loss makes us examine life. How lucky we are to have beautiful, in mind, creatures and people in our midst. To appreciate all that we have and who we have.

If you know that someone is struggling, offer help. Give a hand and squeeze it to let them know you’re there and will be there. For you, it might be an instant, for them it could be everything, a lifetime, a lifeline.

Hug your loved ones. Kiss your dogs on their foreheads. Life passes too quickly for them and us.

Sascha Darlington 2019


This post was originally written May 25, 2016

sascha baby picThe eve of our annual Sandbridge trip, our first without Cha. Last year, Cha was still here, although degenerative myelopathy had taken its toll and we knew she was literally on her last legs, but my girl had will, such strength and sense of purpose and plain desire to never let me out of her sight even if it meant that if I was out of the room, she barked so that I would return. And I always did. I didn’t take many vacations without her. If I was near, she was near. Even now, ten months after her passing I have this sense that she is not far. How could she be?sascha

I had her from a puppy. She came on an airplane from Massachusetts, such an amazing extravagance. She looked bedraggled, besieged, and perhaps a tad disappointed,  covered in vomit and poo and urine. She looked a bit like she
would never be happy again.

The first night she wailed and carried on. The second night too. In fact, for many nights. She hated the crate initially, although it soon became her place of comfort.

She was just three months the first time we went to Sandbridge. We rented an SUV and put the crate in and put her in the crate. Oh, it was the most horrible experience. She barked frantically until I took her out and she settled down or, more truthfully, settled into a place where she could see and rule the world.

sascha 2

When we let her loose on the beach, she ran. She loved it. She barked at the ocean as if she could make it quiet. She chased the seagulls into flight. She weaved herself into the waves and jumped and licked, her brown eyes fervently bright, her tail a metronome on caffeine.

For fourteen years we lived those summers over and over and then age took over and disease and neither of our wills could persevere.

The last visit she sat on the sand and looked out at the ocean. I think she would have loved to ride the waves again, bark at the roar. She was over sixteen, battling kidney failure and neurological deficits.

sascha at beach

There are many things in life that are hard, I mean, really hard. It’s making true life and death decisions. Creating a will. Burying your parents. Letting go of institutions that have kept you grounded. Recognizing you must let go of dreams of children or such things that others take for granted. Losing the dog that you held as a puppy and house trained and obedience trained and who obedience trained you and taught you how to love with a completely open heart. Yes, she was your surrogate daughter, all fifty some pounds that you nearly lost a decade earlier to some parasite. She who was there to jostle your elbow with her cold nose to remind you time and time again that you were never alone, that she was there. She who barked at you, razzed you because, just because, you did something that she didn’t think was quite so. So much love you had for her. I had for her. My shadow, Cha.

I wish I believed in heaven and rainbow bridge and that someday I would see my girl’s face, her joyful eyes and her lamb-like skip. I have a video, which I watch, and which reminds me that she, the life force to contend with all life forces, has somehow passed beyond me and I am left with hope and longing.

On our last drive to Sandbridge, she couldn’t quite get comfortable, although the vet assured me that this disease left her in no pain. It had been her way to snuggle herself between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and lie down, but she could no longer manipulate her body. Her wails were like her puppy wails and we had come full-circle, but this time there would be no running on the beach. We were visiting for the last time and we all knew it.

sascha last

I have no profound thoughts to end this. I had a beautiful shadow, an English Shepherd who taught me much about living and loving and being loved, who was a boss in a dog suit, who I gave my heart to, and who I cry for on rainy days and sunny days and who will stay with me even when I am old and gray and can no longer cavort in the ocean but must sit in the sand as she once did and maybe in some realm she will be there with me and we will watch the breaking waves turn white and undulate and I will feel the warmth and think it is the sun, but it will be her shaggy-coated self leaning into me.

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11 replies »

  1. You can see her again one day! There is a Heaven and God. A place he holds all his creatures upon their return from this earth, until we join them. Just have faith……John 3:16!
    I will see all of my fur babies some day as I am childless (not by choice am I childless). They fill my heart as yours filled your heart. I pray you have room for another great love some day.

  2. Such a beautiful and heart breaking story. Cha was a gorgeous and well loved. I am not a believer but I think every life we touch leaves us with something, an energy ? I don’t know I know your pain is deep and I hope it gets better.
    My best furry friend just turned 14 and is not doing well. I took him to the beach the other day for some sand time. I know our time together is very short now and I want to have as many happy moments as possible.
    Thank you for sharing your story

    • Thank you for your comments. I am a firm believer in time as the great healer, but there are all of the firsts /memories that happen along the way. Like this trip–bittersweet.

  3. A very moving post. We returned to Ruby’s and Seamus’ favoutite hiking grounds soon after their passing and those first hikes without them were the hardest. We can feel their presence sometimes and their faces appear in the clouds. I truly believe that their spirit lives on and that we meet again on our next journey. Much love to you xxx

  4. Oh my gosh, what a beautiful post. They do become our children and losing them is so very hard. My babies would not leave me so it was up to me to make the decision that I could not stand to see them suffer any more. I miss them terribly.

  5. This really touched my heart. I have had dogs and pups before, but none of them could possibly hold a candle to Loki. He’s beautiful and elegant to look at, but more importantly, he’s got the most gentle personality, he’s playful, and thoughtful. He takes everyone into consideration and if he knows you need to sit, he’ll move from his current spot so he’s out of your way, then sit and wait until you get settled and lay his head on your knee. When he takes his treats from your hand, it is with the whisper of a touch, he’s so incredibly careful not to inflict pain. He melts my heart! I don’t know what life would be like without him and I don’t want to know either. He’s such a blessing! I understand completely your love of Cha! Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt touching moment.

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