Handling Death One Thousand Miles Away


I knew this text was coming and I was dreading the day that it would. Goose is Taylor’s dog that has been in his life for 14 years. Everyone knew that Goose was “his”dog and you could tell they loved each other immensely.

But Goose was sick. He was 14 years old. He did this horrible coughing, wheezing sound, he had occasional seizures and didn’t hold body weight very well. I knew this text was coming.

I did not want to think about it though because I knew it would tear Taylor apart and just that thought made me tear up. So, I was in the mindset of “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Then last Friday we came to that bridge and then we had to cross it.

I did not exactly realize how hard it would be to comfort someone 923 miles away. I could not hug him. I could not make sure he ate or make sure he didn’t go to the bar and destroy himself. I could talk to him on the phone and text him but I couldn’t physically be there and that broke my heart. I cried many times because he was so upset and there literally wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

But while I couldn’t physically be there, I tried to think of creative ways to “be there” and make sure he ate and continued pushing on in school. I really could only come up with three:


  1. I ordered him a pizza

I didn’t know if he was really eating so I gave him food. It took me a good half hour to find a pizza place that would deliver to base (one lady thought a naval base was an apartment complex…yeah) but I finally did. A medium cheese pizza and a small cookie cake was delivered to Taylor all paid for and ready to eat. I just texted him saying, “Keep your phone on you and tip well. Don’t be cheap!”

I obviously didn’t cure his sadness but I could tell I picked him up just a bit and I felt better knowing he had hot, non-galley food right there.

2. I bought cards

The day I got that text I went to Walmart and picked up 13 motivational, mushy, funny cards as I could (none with dogs). Thirteen because that is how many days there were until I would see him again. He’s getting a card a day with a little something to brighten his day. He’ll get a little piece of me every day until I can actually be there.

3. I cried with him

We have weekly Skype dates on Sundays. Last Sunday we were talking and he was just straight up moody. I was telling him a story about my day and I looked up and I noticed he was crying. I didn’t say much. I cried too. I asked if he wanted to talk about it and he didn’t say much. So, we cried for a minute or two then carried on talking.

What is important about this is that he knew he wasn’t the only one hurting. He could go to his friends to talk but I don’t think they would cry along with him. It was important to me that he knew he wasn’t alone.

Really, other than that, there wasn’t much I could do. When something terrible like that happens, there isn’t much you can do besides let them go through it and do everything you can to make it known that you are there.

So, R.I.P. Goose. I only knew you for a little while and you were the best snuggler. You helped shape Taylor into what he is and I thank you immensely for that.


2 thoughts on “Handling Death One Thousand Miles Away

  1. I’m so sorry about that hun, that’s terrible.

    I’m having a hard time with something similar. I’m with a man in the navy. I’ve known him since we were 12. He’s stationed in Japan and I live in New Mexico. He told me, about a week ago, that his dad wasn’t doing very good with his chemo. His mom said he wouldn’t make it through the summer. And, I’m having the hardest time being there for him. I try to. I lost my mom to cancer and told him if he wanted to talk he could and that I was always there for him. And, then he didn’t talk to me for about 5 days. Then, we talked a bit and video chatted, but he didn’t bring it up. It just breaks my heart that he’s 7,000 miles away and there’s nothing I can. I can’t comfort him or make sure he’s eating and make sure he’s not drinking too much and it hurts. I know he’s not ok and I just wished I could help more.
    I mean, I completely understand what you’re saying, its a hard position to be in. I’m not even sure how to help at all anymore.


    1. Oh man. I’m really sorry to hear all of that. Well, first off, hats off to you for being so strong through all of it! I admire you for that. Taylor was really similar in that he pushed me away a little bit too. His texting became a little less frequent and he didn’t really want to talk about it much. Really, I think that’s just the military in them. They are taught to not show emotion. They have to be brave and suck it up, ya know? So, as hard it sounds, you kind of just have to let them go through it on their own. I mean, you are doing all the right things by showing your support and reminding him that you are always there and that’s the most important thing. Maybe another idea would be a care package! Are you allowed to send those? I’m a sucker for care packages and that way you can send him snacks to at least ensure that he has some good food at hand to make sure he eats. And you can also send some stuff to make him smile! It might also help because then you kind of feel like you actually did something, ya know? It was a physical thing you did. But I get how hard it is and I can totally relate to what you are going through…


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