I felt the need to write you a farewell letter. Many times, both in my head and through tears, I have composed the start of this letter since you said your goodbyes to us Friday. I awoke lost, without my alpha dog on the first morning without you beside me in bed, waking me up by flopping over to spoon and cuddle as I waited on coffee and the snooze alarm, but then remembered all that you have taught me over the years about dealing with loss, challenges and hard times.
Through my terribly sad fog of a brain, I knew that it was my turn (on my own and with all those whose lives you have touched) to take care of all that you have helped with so much over the years. You have not only been my favorite and most talented co-therapist in this life, but also my grounding source, my sounding board, and my motivation for being a better human.
You literally helped me up when I fell down, and you knew my soul better than any human ever could. You reached me when I had no longer allowed anyone else to try. You picked some of my new friends as you helped me to create a new and better life after wheelchairs, homelessness and nursing home, and you kept me moving forward no matter what.
One could argue that you were “just a dog” but it would be a huge and tragic missing of the mark, for who you were to me, and to so many whose lives you were honored to touch was so much more. You were magic. You were magnificence. You were the epitome of any definition of love, selflessness and giving.
The veterinarian told me that your neurological status at the end should have made you miserable, nauseated and dizzy. No one who made it to say his or her goodbyes Friday morning saw that. You wagged, you smiled, you let us all cry and tell stories about our life with you, and you did not complain. Until the end, my son, you were the epitome of all that is good, right and holy in this life.
Because of that, I know it is important that I have not only “gotten” the life lessons you have spent so many of your last 14 years trying to teach me, but also that I pay those forward whenever I can with a loving, giving, self-less spirit in which you taught them to me.
You would want me to stay grounded, stay focused, and continue creating my own life and to create opportunities for others to create better for their lives. You would want me to make sure your “boys” are doing the same in your honor at work, and that the staff and friends who loved you do the same.
It has truly been an honor to hold your leash as you trail blazed your way into the hearts of those at work, and as you made every single person who crossed your path to feel loved, special and whole. You could see that they were worthy of that, whether they could or not—I see that too, but only because you taught me how to see it.
While I am terribly sad and feel a bit lost trying to imagine a world without you physically in it, my heart is so much bigger because you picked me for you and your brother. My life is so much richer and my world so much fuller than I could ever imagine because you opened me up to it.
I would not trade any of the tears I shed, and will continue to shed as I grieve your absence, for never having the opportunity and the privilege to share so much of my lifetime with you by my side.
My soul mate dog, it was your time. I will always love you and appreciate all that you were to me and to so many others. You have given so much, and now you can rest. We will take it from here.