Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there's a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see. – Helen Keller
I wasn’t going to write today, but somehow am compelled to do so.
Yesterday was one of the roughest days I have had in my life. I had to make the heart-wrenching decision to have my wonderful fur son, Henry, euthanized. I was there to the end, as he was always there for me in life.
It is one of the hardest decisions a responsible – and loving – pet father ever has to make.
But, for all the heartbreak I am now experiencing, I know it was the right decision.
It has been an incredibly difficult month. It actually all started about seven weeks ago when his pee suddenly turned the colour of red wine.
At first the vet thought it was a urinary infection. But when it didn’t clear up and x-rays were done it was found he had a large mass in his abdomen. Turns out it was what was left of one kidney.
It was cancer, and it had spread to his lungs. The best we could do was make him comfortable until the time came to do “the deed.”
As you can imagine, the following weeks were nothing short of an emotional roller coaster. How will I know when the time has come? I certainly didn’t want him to suffer. At the same time I didn’t want to lose him.
As time went on the cancer slowly began to take its toll, turning the happy-go-lucky boy I loved so much into one who had little interest in doing the things that used to bring him (and me) so much joy.
I know even he knew that something was terribly wrong. It was heart-breaking to see him change.
This is where the rubber hits the road. So often in life we make decisions based purely on self-interest. It is human nature to do so. They say that even those with altruistic tendencies do so for the “high” they feel in helping others.
Having a pet necessitates one to think more of another than we do of ourselves. These creatures we take into our hearts give us so much and ask so little in return, except for our love. Having the strength to say goodbye when it is necessary is the ultimate expression of that love.
I honestly don’t know what kind of point I am trying to make with all this – if any. Perhaps it is just to set in motion my self-healing. Because, believe me, I am in need of it. I feel “empty” inside, like my heart is missing.
I am forever in debt to the kind folks at South Shore Veterinary in Bridgewater, Dr. Wentzell who performed his initial surgery, and in particular Dr. Hilary Scholten who helped me through the end. She has a gentle soul.
What will I remember? I’ll remember his obsession with ocean waves; his Santa coat he let me make him wear; and how he loved to walk behind me as I mowed the lawn; how he always wanted to go with me no matter how boring the journey; how happy he was just to BE, and to be with me; how exciting it was to get an extra-special treat in his dog bowl, or to play with his toys.
But now I am faced with dog bowls that will never be refilled, and toys whose squeaks have been silenced forever. No more required morning walks. No more waking up at 3am to let him on the bed. No more kisses.
From this point on, I walk alone. But I am more of a man, and a better one, for having him in my life.
Thank you, Henry. I miss you.
– Love always, your dad.