I’ve held it together all day.
I’ve said all the right things, at all the right moments.
I smiled, I think, and I laughed… mostly because everyone else was laughing. I might have even told a joke or two, the mindless lame jokes that always seem to be the handiest in a pinch.
I made believe that it was just a normal day. I pretended that I didn’t see the shadow of sadness dancing in everyone’s eyes, or the way their faces would fall and the harsh lines creep in around the corners of their mouths when they thought no one was looking.
I did all the little ‘normal’ things that make up a daily routine.. only today, I did them on auto pilot, but I don’t think anyone really noticed. We were all too caught up in our own grief, and the effort it took to keep up the charade of normalcy.
All day I held strong.
All day I pushed thoughts of this to the back of my mind.
I was able to keep myself from breaking down, from coming apart.
It is another story now that I’m alone in the dark of night.
Now I have nothing but time to reflect on it. To be afraid.
When we picked that puppy out nine years ago, no one told us it would hurt this bad. Holding that wiggly little bundle of fur and tongue in our arms, I don’t think we’d have BELIEVED anyone if they’d told us just what kind of pain was in store.
But even if we could have imagined how deeply this would hurt, we wouldn’t have chosen any differently.
For nine years you’ve been by our side, growing and learning with us. Right from the start, you were our miracle puppy, the puppy who even the vet didn’t think would live. You had such vitality though, nothing could darken the light in your eyes. You grew and thrived. And became part of the family. I can honestly say you became a huge part of this family. Your loyalty and personality, and good nature immediately won us over. We loved watching you grow and seeing all your stages, from puppy to the awkward gawky ‘ugly’ stage, to fully grown Saint Bernard that had people pulling over onto the side of the road to get a closer look at you when we went out.
I never thought this day would come. Stupid, I know, but… as with many animal people.. somehow, we just seem to forget that your life span just isn’t quite what our’s is. We take for granted that we have you forever.
And then days like today come and show us that our time together really is so short.
I knew this was coming. Every day for the past month I’ve watched as you put up a good fight, tried to keep pushing your old body to do what it used to and not understanding why you can’t.
Every day we fought beside you. All of us. Your family and your vets. Together we tried to pull off one more miracle for you, to give you just a bit longer to enjoy your old age, to give you a bit longer without pain.
We all fought hard, you the hardest of us all.
And come Monday, you will finally have that ‘miracle’, you will finally be pain free.
And I will be right there with you, right up until the end. Because we started this journey together, you and I, when I picked you out nine years ago, and we will damn well finish things the way we started them. Together.
I’m scared though. So scared. I don’t want to see the life leave your eyes. I don’t want to hear you take your last breath. I don’t want to let you go.
Part of me wants to be selfish, to think of only my wants. To keep you here with me as long as possible. My heart wants to keep fighting, to keep believing that maybe we just need one more day to make things better, one more new med that will cure everything.
But my brain knows better. My brain knows you’ve suffered enough, that this won’t make you happy, and that every day I’d watch the life ebb from your eyes in small increments, until nothing remained but a dead eyed husk. I know that every day would be harder on you than the last, and you would suffer unbearably.
And I cannot let that happen. I love you too much.
I don’t know how I’m going to come home to this big empty house afterwards without you. It is going to be too quiet. Too big. Too empty.
But I know it is for the best.
Humans are funny creatures. We know that animals like dogs have a much shorter life span than we do. We know, in some part of our selves, that eventually we will come to this point if we let ourselves love an animal. And we do so any way.
It is because the joy they bring to our lives far outweighs the pain. And I would do everything just the same if I had to choose again.
Because I got to love you for nine years. I got to have you as my best friend, to spoil and teach and protect.
And I know that when you take your last breath, I will never have any regrets about your life, because I know you were hugged often, that you knew you were cherished, that you were spoiled and pamper, and that we showed you just as much love as you showed us.
I just wish you knew how big a part of our family you became. How big a part of our lives you became.
How big a part of MY life you became. Even though I was skeptical at first, and really wasn’t sure if I could bond with another dog.
You changed that. And showed me that human’s hearts are always capable of finding space for another animal.
I love you, and I am going to make the most of these last few days with you.
And I am never going to forget what an impact you’ve made on us all.
I’m scared of the day that your memory becomes fainter, and blurred around the edges with time, but I know in my heart that you will always be there.
I’m scared of what life will be, without you here, but I know this is for the best.
And I will always know in my heart that you love us just as much as we love you.