Our twelve-year-old dog, Max, left his body on Monday. I didn’t realize until after he was gone how hard his last year had been. Almost as soon as the vet’s medicine stopped his heart, I felt him celebrating–flying. (We fly too when out of our bodies. 🙂 )
I had asked him, “Max, please tell me if you’re ready to go.” He then lost control of his bladder and had blood in his stool. He had been limping for months and began to hop on three legs. The cataracts seemed to swell. He couldn’t keep up with me on our walks, which I should have noted, accepted, far earlier. I’ll know the signs now if I am blessed again with a special friend like Max, and I won’t expect my friend to hang on, no matter what.
We picked up calming medication to give him an hour before we arrived. I cried all the way to the vet; my daughter held her tears back until we reached the parking lot. He collapsed when I got him out of the car; a vet tech carried him in and laid him on the stainless steel table. Another family was crying in the room next to us. Just a few minutes later the vet gave Max the medicine and ten seconds after he was gone. My daughter held him tight in her arms and felt him go. I felt her strength and compassion and realized in that moment that she is ready for college.
It’s hard for me to go into my bedroom–he slept next to my bed. The sadness comes over me in waves and I cry again until it subsides again. It’ll be a while for me although I, too, am older and wiser. I’m not angry at him or God; instead I am aware of how blessed we were to have the last 12 years together. It’s a good lesson—to celebrate the life shared, rather then simply mourn the loss. I hope I don’t forget.