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                                Love, Death and Healing: My Little Lion

                                                                                       By Christopher Devin Hastings







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"If you love someone and it does NOT work out, there is going to be pain.


If you love someone and it does work out, there is still going to be pain. 


So, to fool yourself into thinking you can avoid pain by avoiding love, what you have to ask yourself is, are you willing to pursue the pain of giving up love?"



(Ed Note: This true story is part of my NLP for Healing Grief class.  Even 26 years later the tears come to my eyes when I read it but they are tears of deep acceptance and gratitude for the love that was in my life for so long. 


If you're finding it hard to heal from the loss of a loved one, maybe this story will help.)



We once had a Black Pekinese for 14 1/2 years.  Being a Chinese dog and all that, we named him Fantan.  He was a wonderful companion.  He was so loyal and loving.

There would never be another like him.


One night he began to have seizures.  After this went on for some hours we called the vet and he came by (we lived in a lovely little town where vets actually made house calls) and after checking him thoroughly, he said that Fantan was having a series of heart attacks and was going to die soon.


My heart hurt so bad when the vet asked us (my mom and I) what did we want to do? 

He explained the options and they were all painful. 


Basically, it was just a question of who was going to suffer more.  Fantan, if we let him die 'naturally' or us (me) for making a decision that is terrible to ever have to make.


When you love someone so much, you hate to see them suffer. 


Tears began to well from my eyes as I looked at my Little Lion. 


My little friend of so many years. 


In that moment I remembered when we got him.  I was only 8 years old at the time.  We had picked him up at night and we brought this tiny little dog back in an open box. 


On the car ride back I noticed that you couldn't tell which end was which because he was such a fur ball. 


You'd think you were petting his head but then the other end would pop up as he looked around.


For the first few weeks we had him, no one could never find him.  He was so scared all he did was hide. 


But I had a special way of calling his name that no one else did which would get Fantan to come out.   I had no idea then that that little creature was going to the one thing I could emotionally count on in my life for 14 ˝  years.


So, with the worst decision a person could ever have to make weighing in my heart, I looked into his eyes and I noticed two things.  One is how majestic they looked. 


I suppose that is partially because they were ringed by the silver fur that told of his

age and also because he had the look that only one you've known for years can have. 


His lower chin had also turned silver so that in some way, he truly looked like a Chinese sage.  The second thing I saw when I looked in his eyes was massive pain.


But, the thought of never being able to look into my friend's eyes ever again took so much from my heart.  I felt pain I couldn't comprehend. 


When you know that you only have seconds or maybe minutes with a loved one, your heart swells with an intensity that goes far beyond thought and words. 


I didn't want to lose him but I could not stand to see him suffering like that.


So, after asking the vet and my mother to please give me a few minutes alone, I cried so hard as I was talking to Fantan telling him how much I loved him and how much I was going to miss him and would he please forgive me for doing what I thought was the best thing. 


I didn't want my best friend to hurt so much.  I told him that if there was any chance, we would have taken it, just like we did many times before when he had been seriously hurt.  But the vet said that the outcome was decided.


It was only a question of time and suffering.


 I talked to Fantan about the things we had done together.  He used to go to school with me for Show and Tell and he was always more like a brotherly companion than a doggy. 


I told him how much he helped me just by being there when I was at my loneliest points in my life.  He was always so happy to see me whenever I came into the house.


I told him how he was always a buddy except when he had a bone.  The damn bone could be 3 times his size but he would move it to his favorite chewing spot and heaven help the person who tried to take the bone. 


Fantan would growl with a ferociousness that was 100 times his size.  I told him that there were going to be the best dog bones ever in Heaven.  


I held him so tightly.....I never wanted to let him go. 


I was going to be so lonely without my Little Lion.


Finally, with aching sadness in my heart and such tears in my voice that I could barely talk, I called the vet back into the room.


He gave Fantan a shot that was supposed to help him go to sleep forever but our proud little dog’s heart was so strong that it would not give up. Not yet. 


So, for the rest of that long night I held him and cried while he fought but in the morning I knew what had to be done because I could not stand to see him suffer. 


He was in so much pain.


I went to the vet to have them give him another shot to help him die peacefully. 

However, as I was sitting at the vets waiting, Fantan died in my arms. 


His little body went stiff and then limp.  I looked at his eyes but he was gone. 

My heart was so crushed as I stroked his head and lifeless body.  


Numb and crying, I bundled him up in his blanket that he loved and I went back out to my car.   I drove home with him in my lap with tears just pouring down my face while I cried out loud.


Finally, I pulled into our driveway and just sat in the car crying and crying with my dead companion of almost 15 years, in my arms.  I loved him so much.  I still miss him.


I was young (around 22) when I lost that incredible little dog but his death was a huge lesson for me on how to deal with later losses and I shall always be grateful that I had him.


I would never have it any other way.  This is how I learned about love.  It is okay to love deeply and yes, sometimes it will hurt so bad to lose, but the pain experienced pales in comparison to the love that is absorbed into our souls.


Wishing you the best in your healing journey.


Devin Hastings



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