Friday, March 14, 2008

A Letter to Dog Heaven

Dear Felanie,

It's been two weeks since you left us, but the emptiness lingers. The first few days after your death weren't too difficult because I stayed out of the house, kept busy, and tried not to think. It just felt like you were away on a short vacation.

But after two weeks, I can't deny the reality anymore. I feel your absence when I lie awake at night.

The other day I vacuumed the kitchen and I actually sucked up pieces of food. Dog food, crumbs, some broken pasta, and even brownie crumbles—you would not have let those things sit for half a second, much less a week. We used to call you a "vulture," laughingly, as you scavenged the kitchen floor—but I never realized how true it was. I never realized how messy we are, or how clean you were.

Dozer is the same, but not the same. He whines a lot more and eats a lot less. He plays fetch, but not for very long, and without the enthusiasm he used to have. He loved you. He relied on you to set the agenda, and now he doesn't know what to do with himself. I don't know how to explain to him that you're never coming back.

The weather's turned warm again. At this time of year, you always used to love lying in the backyard in the sun like a big red cat. The wisteria is about to bloom, and the grass is turning soft and green. Remember when we used to sit together in the yard, and I would pick grass for you to lip out of my palm, like a horse? Or when I would tickle your nose with a seed stalk, and you would pretend to sneeze? You always humored me.

I'm sorry. I know you were feeling bad, and I know it was your time to go. But I still want to apologize to you. I feel like I was not honest with you, like I lied to you. How do you tell a dog that you are trying to do what's best? I couldn't tell you you had cancer. I couldn't tell you that we had scheduled your death. I couldn't tell you to savor your last day, your last bite of cheese, your last hug. You didn't know—you thought it was just another day, even though it wasn't. The look in your eyes—the surprise, the hurt, the confusion—when the vet put the needle in your leg... I will never forget that look. Please forgive me for lying to you. I didn't know how to explain it.

I'm sure you're in a better place: healthy, happy, and pain-free. I hope I will get to see you again someday. I'm going to continue sharing your teachings with others, so your spirit will live on forever. It's the least I can do to honor the memory of a dog that taught me so much. I miss you, Fel.

Love, your mommy


forsythia said...

This is one of the most difficult acts of compassion that people perform for the dogs they love. It's hard, so hard, to let them go. My sister and her husband went through the same thing this weekend. They knew it was for the best, but that did not ease the ache in their hearts.

Murphy's Mom said...

It's been six years and a few months since I went through want you are going through and damn I still miss that dog! It does get easier with time, but I remember when the pain was raw and fresh. Even though it is the hardest thing in the world to do, it is a gift that we can end our animal's suffering. Felanie was so lucky that you cared enough to let go when the time was right.

Anonymous said...

This broke my heart. We had to put down our beloved Maggie more than a year ago (kidney failure) and I still cry over it and her. The eyes, the is so hard. Just know someday you will meet again. It gets easier but they never leave your heart.