Saturday, June 10, 2017

Ben's passing



My beautiful boy Ben left us yesterday. And I can assure you right away that he passed in true peace.

I saw his decline as soon as I returned to France but it has only been within the past few months that his advanced kidney disease began to have an effect on his daily life. He lost an enormous amount of weight and he lost his bark. He increasingly had difficulties with his hindquarters and needed help on the stairs. But he was in very good hands. Claire has been Ben's vet since he was a tiny pup. She is also one of my dearest friends here in France. She and her partner Franck, who is also an excellent vet, took wonderful care of him. And because of that, he was functioning very well until the end.

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time with Ben recently. He was, as always, so full of joy. It was the defining characteristic of his existence and he never discriminated in whom he would shine that light upon. He handled his age with grace and an always perfectly on pitch sense of humor. All of the neighbors knew of his decline and would run inside to get cookies to offer him when they happened upon him during our walks down the street. Ben begged for those petits gâteaux without mercy and everyone would laugh. It was contagious. He was a charmer through and through. And nothing pleased him more than he when he could make someone else happy. It gave him great pride.

However, the day before yesterday, he could not get up. It came out of nowhere and as he snapped as if to bite me when I tried to help him, it became immediately obvious that he was now in great pain. I will not go into all of the details but by the end of the day he had let us all know that he was ready to go. I had been watching for this sign for quite some time and it was very clear. Along with my ex-companion, we made the decision and called Claire.

That evening will remain very dear to me. I made myself comfortable by his side and talked to him for hours. I told him how much I loved him, how much good he had done in the world, that he had taught me about love and the beauty of life, how he had helped so many people. We watched it get dark, the arrival of the first stars and then the brightening of the sky as the moon rose, magnificent.

The next morning he could not lift his head but his eyes were clear. I repeated all that I had said the night before and also spoke of so many wonderful stories from the past. We had been through so much together. I never stopped petting him while I spoke.

After Claire arrived, we settled into place for the final part of his journey. It was time to free him from the pain that he in no way deserved. My ex was behind him with his head on Ben's neck, while I was in front looking into his eyes. Claire gave him an initial sedative to send him off to sleep. While we spoke to him, Ben would not stop licking our hands, just as he had the entire morning long.


Claire could see that he was resisting the sedative. He wanted to make sure that we were ok. She administered the second shot that would eventually still his heart. We kept talking to him and I could not stop repeating, "I love you, Ben." Claire placed her hands on him and we were all so peaceful that Kipling fell asleep nearby. Eventually, Ben did too. And then his heart stopped. For a minute or two, I could feel his spirit hovering. And then he was gone. 

I am so grateful for so many things. 

That his favorite three people in the world were at his side. That he only had two truly difficult days. That we gave him such a wonderful life. That Ben was Ben.

I miss him very much. And I will continue to do so, I know. My tears come in waves.

But today I am trying to focus on the love in my heart for him. For that will always be there and in that way he will live on. Love was his life goal. Let his example inspire me so that it shall also be mine. May I honor him in doing what he did so well. 

I know that he is with the angels now because he was one while here on earth.

I love you, Ben. Thank you for all that you have given me and for having been such a true friend.


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I know that so many of you here loved him too, even without knowing him. It is why I wanted to share these photos, taken in the last hours of his life, along with the story of his passing. As he has long been such an important part of my existence, as well as here at Lost in Arles, I hope to do a second post with some of my favorite moments with him on the blog. Ben would not want any of us to suffer, ever. So while I realize that you might share in my grief, there is still so much to celebrate in his life well lived.

With much Love from Provence,
Heather




49 comments:

  1. You were both lucky .. lucky to share such love. You couldn't have expressed it better.

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  2. Dear Heather,
    I am so sorry for your loss but so glad that you had the experience of Ben's perfect love.
    L xxoo

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  3. I do share in your grief - cried yesterday when you told me the news and crying now. How can I not? He was such a sweetie and you loved him SO much, plus I feel your pain. I remember his funny personality - I think we only met once - he stayed close and liked lots of petting - insisting on it, if I'm remembering correctly! One of my favorite pictures EVER is of you holding him as a puppy, near the arena - a little fluff ball and pure joy on your face. You were both lucky to have had each other - soulmates - loving each other so intensely. For sure he is an angel now. He was such a good boy, and I am so so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you both so much and looking forward to the next post, with more pics of him. Just realizing that he is my screensaver on my computer! A magical picture that glows - so perfect now for that sweet angel.

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  4. He is definitely with the angels! What a great love you two had - never will be forgotten. At some point, more smiles of great memories with take over the sad tears of loss. Of course, loss always has a way of rearing up when we least expect it - as do wonderful, funny, loving memories. It's all a journey, isn't it?! I am truly sorry for your loss, Heather.

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  5. What a beautiful soul Ben was on earth, and now his spirit is soaring. So very sorry to read this post, but you wrote it with such love. I lost my 11 yr. old yellow Lab boy just two weeks ago, so this post is beyond meaningful to me.
    It was always so enjoyable to see photos of Ben & Kipling on some adventure in the French countryside.
    Now, when I hike with only one dog by my side, I somehow feel my Lab boy is joining us. I know that Ben is still with you and I'm sure you can sense that.
    Sending you love with deepest condolence.

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  6. Goodby wonderful creature! It breaks my heart!

    I am so glad you had each other and that you were able to be by his side when he was leaving. I was always hoping you could because I saw he was aging but never dared to touch the subject.

    I know he will never leave you but the way you write I know you will get over the pain. Believe me, I am actually crying!
    Thank you for decicating him such a wonderful and decent post.
    I send you all my Love and Condolences dear Heather!

    Ben was, as you've often put it "beautiful, inside and out"!

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  7. So sorry to hear of Ben's passing. He was one of the lucky ones to be so loved.

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  8. Heather, Thank you for this beautiful tribute to Ben. I must admit that it took me by surprise and I burst into tears when I saw your Instagram post while at the farmer's market this morning. May we all love as well and expertly as Ben. Sending hugs to you, my friend.

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  9. I just saw this and my heart is broken. I admired Ben greatly, and loved him though I never had the privilege of meeting him. I am so happy you were with him as he left, Heather. .Goodbye to "our" beautiful Ben. Thank you for so generously sharing him with us for all these years.

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  10. I am truly sorry for your loss.

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  11. I am finding it hard to gather words through my tears. Tears for you, Ben and the wounds that were opened when I read this piece. I know your boy will always be with you. Travel safely dear Heather. Bises, Elizabeth

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  12. i am choked up after reading this again, to steve. Beautiful trubute to a beautiful angel. Xo

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  13. So sorry and sad to read this. Ben was so loved and you were all lucky to have each other. Sending you much love and hugs from Canada XO

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  14. Our beloved animals give us so much and take so much with them when they must go. Beautifully written.

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  15. My darling Heather, I could not have read more loving, more touching and more beautiful. You know of my love for both of them. I always thought of them when I thought of you. How could I not? My love of dogs is well-known to everyone who knows me. And, yes, those of us who love them know they will leave us one day. It's never a good day. I love my beloved FiFi, lost last July 22nd. Bono & I speak to her every single day. She was with me for 16 years after we rescued this beautiful purebread 7 1/2 lb Poodle. My late husband loved her dearly. They are, all of them, the most guileless creatures on Earth, sent here to comfort us, befriend us, keep us company, and show us how to love. I'm in tears, not because of your words, but because his beautiful spirit has departed from you.
    Just remember, he will be waiting at The Rainbow Bridge for you, and in that place he will be young and beautiful again, running in the tall grass with all the other dogs, happily awaiting your arrival.

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  16. Dear Heather,

    I am so relieved that you could hold Ben, tell him how much you loved him. He must have been so happy to see you when you returned to France. Like everyone else who follows your blog, I feel on intimate terms with Ben and Kipling. He kept licking you to comfort you and your ex. He was ready to go but had to hold you in his heart as you will hold him forever. So sorry to hear about this. But it is surely a blessing to have known and loved him! I have very misty eyes, having read your moving tribute. We are all with you in spirit.

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  17. I know this pain with my two cats and shed a few tears for Ben too.It is so good that he slept with so much love. I am truly very moved Heather

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  18. Heather, I'm so sorry for your loss! Our doggy friends are as much a member of our family as our human family, and give us so much unconditional love, they elicit so much love in return. I'm glad you were there with him in his last hours. He would have drawn comfort from that. And he definitely knew he was loved!
    Thank you for sharing with your readers. His smiley face and waggy tail made him a favourite!
    Deborah - Melbourne

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  19. Dear Heather, I am so sorry for your loss. Ben always brought a smile to my face when he was on the blog.

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  20. Oh dear Heather! These pictures break my heart!! I am so sorry for you! I absolutely know how you are feeling right now! But I am sure Ben has had a the most gorgeous life being with you!
    I am with you dear Helen! xoxo

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  21. Oh, Heather, you have given Ben such a wonderful life. The love just radiates.

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  22. So sorry for your loss Heather..Ben was very beautiful and gave joy and happiness to so many people..im sure he will continue to watch over you...just of sight, but still very much there..xoxoxo

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  23. I, too, was surprised at how quickly tears plinked out on my phone when I read of Ben's crossing over. I'm sorry for you and your loss. And I am overjoyed Ben was lucky enough to have found you and your bottomless pit of love. Photos are gorgeous (as they always are).

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  24. Your story with Ben is mine. Be well.

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  25. Heather....brought back memories of all of my animal companions that are sadly gone...many tears...
    So sad for you.

    Ali

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  26. So so sorry, I know how hard this is, our dogs become such a special part of our family, they are one of us. Much love and huge hugs xx

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  27. Tears and smiles and tears. Ben was a heavenly being, an angel on earth. His soul lives in you and the good work you do and will do in his name.

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  28. Holding you in love and light dear Heather as you walk this new journey carrying memories of Ben. My tears celebrate the beautiful story you have shared with us.
    Kristin

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  29. Oh Heather, I am weeping reading this. He was a real love, your Ben. xo

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  30. So sorry to hear about the passing of your beautiful dog. Through your writing and photos we feel like we all knew him. So he will be missed by many.

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  31. Tears for Ben and for you, and smiles, too, for your wonderful times with him. Thank you for sharing so much of him with all of us.
    If dogs really do cross the Rainbow Bridge, and I want to think they do, then my Melody and Baxter were waiting to greet him. I like the idea of all of them playing together, running free.

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  32. I'm so sorry, Heather. Your post is beautiful.

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  33. a beautiful soul, indeed. bon courage to you, Heather, in the days ahead.

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  34. If only somebody own(ed) a dog he understand your grief. Very sorry for that loss, dear Heather.

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  35. my condolences
    parting is sweet sorrow
    to a life well spent

    Love Bernadette

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  36. Only those of us blessed to have a fur-friend/family-member in our lives can understand the full extent of your loss. Your words and photos brought tears but having had to say goodbye to little ones we've loved, I recognize the gentleness of his passing. Ben will always be with you - tucked away in a corner of your heart!

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  37. My deepest sympathy
    Big tears and heartbreak for Ben's passing.

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  38. Beautiful and so heartbreaking, Heather. Thank you so much for sharing this experience and these photos. Sending you love and thoughts of comfort right now. Ben really was - and will always be - such a big part of this corner of the internet, I feel so lucky that I had the chance to read about the many adventures you shared with each other.

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  39. I was sobbing as I read your tender account of Ben's passing, remembering all too well, the passing of our dear, beloved Amber in 2009. (She's the one on the right). She was only 7-1/2, the light of our lives, and just like Ben, spread joy wherever she went Sthttps://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/477fb1a1966cb9d0cc3b146b7ed70668b6b3d07a0c80bda94a030b66756e1aac.jpg

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  40. Dear Heather,
    I am so sorry for you!
    xxx

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  41. So sorry for Ben's passing. May Ben rest in peace. God bless you.

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  42. Oh, Heather, I am weeping as I type this and so truly sorry for your loss. In a way, Ben was OUR dog because we loved seeing him so much in your photos. How lucky you were to have found each other. May Ben's memory be a blessing. Je t'embrasse.

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  43. Surely, Heather, you know of this quotation, from Milan Kundera?.......“Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know
    evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a
    glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not
    boring--it was peace.”Reading over these comments, I'm heartened to know that you have so many responsive, sympathetic friends at this time. Thinking of you and wishing you well, here in North Carolina, David Terry

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