Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Saying Goodbye

Over the past few months, several of my friends have lost dogs to illness, old age or accidents. Every time somebody I know loses a dog, I feel sad for them, and it makes me wonder how I will deal with it when the time comes for me. The time for wondering is done. One of my dogs is sick, and he’s going to die. And more than likely, I’m going to have to choose when.

I’ve never tried to convince myself that this would be an easy process. But I never truly realized just how hard it would be. I find myself swinging between acceptance of the inevitable and grief at my loss. I am angry because he’s young and it’s too soon, but then again I am also thankful for the time that we have had together. With some people, when I talk, I actually sound like a rational human being. And with others, as soon as I try to open my mouth, my throat closes and my eyes sting with tears. In the evenings, I seem to be able to handle it better. But when I’m sitting at work, the grief overwhelms me. How will I handle things when he’s gone, if this is how I deal with the anticipation?

There are a million thoughts running through my head with every minute of every day. When this dog looks into my eyes, trustingly, I wonder how I will know when it’s time. He can’t tell me when he’s had enough, so I have to interpret his body language and symptoms. But how can I tell when it’s not too early, not too late, but just the right time to let go? I’m very afraid of making him wait too long, for my own selfishness. The thought of this dog, that has given all of himself to me, suffering because I can’t bear to say goodbye, is a painful one. But I also don’t want to swing too far to the other side of the spectrum, and let go too soon. I know that people always say you know when the time is right, but I still am not confident that I will know.
As my dog lays beside me at night, sleeping, I think about all of the time we have had together. He has been a part of my life for over eight years now, and there have been plenty of good times. He’s also frustrated me more than once too. When I brought this dog home, he had experienced little human contact and he had lived a fairly unhappy life. For the first year, I taught him to enjoy people and life, and to enjoy being a spoiled pet. Occasionally I could almost sense his disbelief at his new life. It didn’t take him long to learn to accept it. He has never looked back to those early days.

Not only do I worry about this dog, but I worry about my one other dog. He has had this dog as a companion for his entire life (starting as a puppy), and I don’t know how he will handle being alone. It’s not like they’re inseparable, but they do have a relationship. Once, when my other dog was around a year old, we lived away from this dog for several months. My schooling made it necessary. My other dog pulled a large amount of hair off of his left flank, and I’m sure it was from missing his companion. I know he will grieve this loss as much as I do.

I am terrified by all of this. I feel juvenile for saying so, because as a mature adult, I should be able to deal with this, but I just feel frozen in time right now. I find myself sitting at work on occasion, with a tightening in my throat and tears pricking my eyes. For no observable reason, most of the time. Of course, I know why, but that doesn't stop my co-workers from thinking that I am losing my mind. I don't know how I will deal with this, and keep my life on track. But I'm going to give it my best shot.

I love you Quigley - together we will enjoy each and every day as never before. There will be NO regrets when this journey ends.

2 comments:

Weeza said...

Oh Kelly, I have tears in my eyes reading this. I can't imagine how hard this must be, and I know you'll do the right thing. Hugs.

Sabrito said...

Kelly I really feel for you right now... but you will know when the right time is. Hugs go to both you and your doggies (BTW, this is Sarah - Vicky's cuz :)