I’m writing this post in memory of my baby boy, my best friend but I’m also writing it for anyone else who lost their best friend today, or is faced with the painful question of whether or not they should let them go.
Rufus found me nearly 14 years ago when I was living in Cabo San Lucas. He showed up on my doorstep in the middle of the night, he was only a few weeks old. He chose me. He must have known how much I was going to need him.
He’s been the strong, steady, silent presence through the passing of many loved ones including my parents, and with it, my innocence.
You are not alone in your deep sadness. In your sorrow, in the darkness so black that you can't even find yourself right now, you, like me, are seeking solace. Something to take away the unbearable pain.
There is no magic answer to your question; how do I survive this grieving? But there is an answer to know if it is time to let them go.
I knew it was time to let Rufus go because he told me it was time. His hind legs were weak. We got him a wheelchair. But then his front legs went today. He looked in my eyes and I knew it was time. I thought about giving it a few more days, not for him, but for me, for my own selfish need to hold on. But that wouldn’t be fair to him. The best way to love our pets at the end is to let them go, with dignity and peace and comfortably, without pain.
I laid on his shoulder and cried one more time, soaking his fur, as I had many times before. He was steadfast and strong, comforting me, as he had, many times before. I can never give him all that he gave me. I have tried. I have tried. But he always gave me more. Your reserves of love, unlimited. I love you buddy. I am so sorry I couldn’t do more. And I’m sorry I let you go.
As I write this my tears soak this keyboard. The pain of death never gets easier, only more familiar.
We have to let them go. Hold him through his last breaths, if you can, and if you can’t that’s OK. Rufus laid in my lap those last few moments, I held him tighter and tighter even after his last breath, clinging on to what was no longer. But I know, I know I felt his love fill the room and it will never leave my heart.
How do you survive, how do you fill that huge, empty, hole in your heart? You don’t fill it with guilt, guilt will only turn that hole into a bottomless pit. When you brought an animal into your home, you saved him. He has spent his whole life trying to pay you back. And he did. Many times over. Even though you never wanted to be paid back. Even though you still feel indebted to him.
So you do it by remembering all the love you shared, the walks, the road trips, the sad times and the good ones, the one-sided conversations that were always met with big, floppy, listening ears and the unconditional love that always greeted you at the door, and then you say, I’ll see you soon buddy. I’ll see you soon.