Today my student came in and the first thing he said to me was that he was sad because his dog had died. Immediately his eyes began to well up and it was obvious how upset he was. As he unpacked his belongings, he took out a picture of his dog, which he kept with him the entire day. My student was a trooper but there was no denying how much he was hurting. He would do a problem or two and then put his head down on his desk. The picture of his dog never once left his hand.
There was a moment in the afternoon that really struck me. About halfway through the day he said, “I still feel funny about my dog being gone.” This made me crack a bit of a smile about his childhood innocence. I gently told him that he might keep that feeling for quite a few days. The way he put it was so innocent but also so genuine.
Think about it. Remember back to one of your own heartbreaks. Your childhood dog dies yet you still expect her to be there to greet you at the door when you get home. Your high school boyfriend breaks up with you and no matter what he said you still picture spending your Friday night sitting next to him. A grandparent dies and come Christmas you expect to have that card signed with their love. Call it what you want, but we all feel a bit funny. Even though we know what reality is, when we are forced to face it head on day after day it just does not sit well. Something seems off. After a week, month, or years we find it strange that the funny feeling has stuck around thinking surely by now it will be over. Like with my student we must be reminded that our heartbreak too may stick around for a while.
I have no seen two children who are truly heartbroken. One over his late dog and the other over a dying mother. The emotion of children is raw and real. Laugh it off as we too often may it is the first of many heartbreaks experienced in life. A funny feeling that seems to linger even when it has worn its welcome.
In honor of late dogs, here’s the song that played on the radio on the way home from putting our first dog Cinnamon to sleep. Sometimes the world gives you just what you need.