Today, we went from being a family of five to four. I can’t believe you’re really gone. My mind said to me very often in the last few weeks as you struggled with such poor health that you wouldn’t be around much longer but my heart couldn’t bear to believe it. I watched you slowly fade further away from us. I stopped to count how many medicines you were being forced to take, just this morning. All for some more borrowed time to keep us whole. Nine tablets and two syrups – twice a day and you weren’t even six years old yet.
The doctors had written you off within the first week that you came home. They said you were too weak and you proved them wrong, my love. Not once, not twice, time and again. Life threw everything it could at you. Severe mange, liver and kidney malfunctions, a heart three times the size of a normal dog and most recently, temporary bladder paralysis and two broken front legs. Though you’re not with us anymore, I want you to know you won. Your capacity to love, overshadowed and overcame all of that; your love for us and life itself.
With two broken legs, you still found strength enough to lift your head ever so slightly when we called out your name. Sometimes in the night, I’d see you shiver in pain with every other breath you took and yet your ears still pulled back with joy every time we stroked you, touched you or held you, just like they always did. Your muscles grew so weak that your legs broke from just the effort of trying to stand up by yourself. But you still asked for the ball and played fetch, even if it was within one square foot, just gripping the ball as you lay on the ground and nudging it back to me with your nose.
You never stopped showing us how much you loved us and being with us, right to your last breath. I hope you understand that we did what we did to put you out of your suffering. It wasn’t easy to see the vet inject that fluorescent-colored liquid that I knew would end it all. That’s the second hardest thing I’ve had to experience, the first being to feel the life leave you as your paws went limp in my hands. We felt it would be criminally selfish to condemn you to an excruciating life of perhaps permanent paralysis and pain with the already mounting multiple health problems. There was no way even you (our miracle dog) would make it out of this one. It is only from your love that we gained the strength to let you go even though we are broken by our loss. But I’d do it again; all of it, knowing that I had less than six years with you. I will never resent you.
Be happy in a heaven of biscuits and toys, run wild like you knew you never again would, here with us. You are free. It breaks my heart to look at the bed you lay in this morning. Seeing your things strewn about the house; your collar, leash, mattress, sheets, bowl, bed, tonnes of toys, your favourite chewed-up hamburger-shaped squeaky, ball, blanket, food, medicines, the plastic bit of an injection we’d have to use to force that icky syrup down your throat, the smell of your shampoo.
I don’t know how long it’ll be before I can eat toast without wondering why you aren’t plonked by my side waiting for the crunchy sides. It will destroy me not to have you to give the cartilage from the chicken leg piece. I won’t be taking extra biscuits at tea-time just for you. It will tear me apart to return home and not be greeted by your smiling face and furiously wagging tail. I will be devastated when I get up tomorrow and not wake up to your handsome face.
But I will let your memories heal me eventually and hope to be more like you, bringing nothing but love and life to this cynical world. Though it has been blown to smithereens by your loss, I am already trying to put my heart together because to remain forever broken would be to resent you. The time I got with you, the memories of all these years will be the gold that’ll fix it, the way the Japanese mend broken cutlery with it as per the art of Kintsugi. I know that you have made my heart more beautiful than it ever was and me, a better person.
I will always love you so go in peace and know that we loved you almost as much as you did us. We’re only human, after all. No regrets, not for a moment. Thank you for everything.