July 16, 2009

The Final Goodbye Replayed

It is hard to believe that it is almost two years since I wrote the post below. I was over at my parent's house helping them clean out a storage shed and I came across one of his old toys. It caught me off guard and I was surprised that for a moment I got choked up, but I miss the big lug.

I miss wrestling and running with him. Sometimes the two of us would just start running. He of course would quickly outpace me. He'd turn his head and look at me, taunt me to try and catch up. As soon as I got close he'd take off again.

More than one evening ended with the two of us sitting together in a room, keeping each other company. Well, those days are gone now. I miss you old friend, but I won't forget you.


The last chunk of time has been rough. It has been hard for a whole host of reasons, but this evening the toughest was because I had to say goodbye to my pal.

Tomorrow morning he has an appointment with the vet. The family has agonized over this. We have spent a ton of time trying to make sure that we make the right decision. Every discussion with the vet has made it implicitly clear that there are no heroic measures to be taken.

That is not to say that there are not things that could be done, there are. At best they might extend his life by a few months, but they wouldn't add to the quality of his life and that is the crux of this matter. He is more than 14 years old and the body won't give of itself anymore.

So for the past few days I have spent as much time with him as I could. He can't chase me anymore. He used to love to fetch a ball. I could throw it a country mile and he'd go get it and bring it back to me. He has trouble doing the basic stuff now. I look at that majestic head and I can see the young puppy staring back at me. Dark soulful eyes look at you and you just know that he is waiting for a treat.

I feel guilty that I know what is going to happen. I feel like part of me is betraying him, but at the same time I don't feel right watching him struggle to get through the day. His breathing is labored and there are times where I swear it looks like he is already gone.

Yet there are moments where he fools me. There are moments in which he moves freely and issues that deep bark that always served notice of his presence. It is almost like he is hoping that this will be enough to gain clemency from the governor and gain a reprieve. If it made sense I would grant it. If I could turn back time I'd make him young again and we'd get more time together.

Fourteen years ago I was a single man and he was the one I'd share all my stories with. We'd take long walks at the park and wander the beach together. He has witnessed some of the biggest moments of my life. And all he has ever asked of me is a little food and companionship. It has been a good deal for both of us.

Tonight the children gave him an extra big hug goodbye and so did I. I bent down and rubbed his belly. I leaned over and made a point to smell him so that I would remember his scent.

I am going to miss my friend.


FlutePrayer said...

Two years? Seems like yesterday. This post still chokes me up...

Jack said...

Me too.

Jack said...

Me too.