This is something I have been wanting to write for some time. It has taken me a while for a lot of reasons, but most of all it is hard. It is really hard, especially when you consider him your best friend. I needed to experience it all, before I shared this with you. This is written from my personal experience, understanding all of our journeys are so different.
Losing my precious pup Murphy, was somewhat unique as not only did I know it was coming, as he was diagnosed with bone cancer, but I was also out of the country when it happened. In some ways I was fortunate, if you will, as he wasn’t expected to make it by the time I was home for summer, however I did have two months to enjoy him while I was home. (Something that I will forever be grateful for) During the”final few months” , I knew that each time I left, there was a chance that he may not have been there when I returned. These blessings gave me more chances at goodbye.
However, when I left for my study abroad, I knew. People say that they know things in their gut, and this I knew as I sat on the kitchen floor and said goodbye; I knew that it was the last time I would see him. Now of course, I cried, I would have cried even if he was his young and skippy self because all of our goodbyes where always hard.
While I was away, the time came. Shortly afterwards my family came to visit me. This was a blessing as we grieved together, and laughed over the many fond memories. Now it was easy to say that it was unfair that I wasn’t there for moments of goodbye,
But that brings about lesson one from this whole experience: 1.Fairness
Pets teach us a lot , which is impressive on its own as they don’t even need to use words. We realize how selfish as humans we can be, and the fact that an animal (even though pets are so much more than that) can really humble you. We agreed no heroic measures. It wasn’t fair that he was sick, but it wasn’t fair of us to have tried to keep him around for our own fear of heartbreak. When “the time came” Mom contacted me via Facetime and also afterwards. I felt so much peace as she told me how when he fell asleep, he was calm and relaxed. Just knowing the peace he experienced, brought me so much peace.
This brings me to another lesson: 2. Peace
My greatest fear was that he would think we were abandoning him, versus trying to help him and make him comfortable. But knowing that he was finally at peace and calm, that comforted me as if he had told us himself. Now having my family there right after was an amazing blessing, but being away also brought a new challenge that I would only be able to face later.
But fast-forward four weeks and there I was, which brings lesson 3: The Quiet.
My family had had a chance to be home and experience what it was like to have one less beautiful soul in our home, however habit got the best of me. He wasn’t loud, or even much of a barker, but there was just an emptiness that I could always feel in the house, one that I think only time can really heal.
However I think the hardest part that I was always looking, another lesson: 4. Always looking
I wouldn’t expect him to come up to me while I was eating at the table or watching TV on the couch, but the hard part was that I was always looking. Every time I went down stairs to grab something and then run back up I would always make a pit stop to say hi to him, or give him a quick pet. I found myself walking into the foyer, in a way that my feet just kept moving before my mind could tell them not to, and I would get to the spot knowing that he wasn’t going to be there. That was the hardest habit to break. However in the time before I left for school again, I grew some new habits, and I think others in my family did to
Which brings me to the fifth thing you should know: 5. Other dogs.
Of course I have always loved dogs and wanted to pet everyone I saw on the street, but now I feel it even more. Every dog, and I mean every dog is the cutest and I always try to pet him or her. Now in every friendly by nature conversation that came whether with these owners or even just close friends,
Which brings another thing to be ready for: 6. The Questions
The most I experienced were from others. The most common question we were asked, is, “ are you going to get another dog?” At first it almost seemed that having another pup around immediately would soften the blow. That if I just transitioned to another pet I wouldn’t have to sit in the quiet as long, and it wouldn’t hurt as bad. But the more we thought, and talked about it, I think we all knew that that wasn’t us. Ironically towards the end of Murphy’s life I began looking at the available dogs on the adoption page of the place we got Murphy. (Something that I still feel some guilt for) However as I read each ‘available dog’ description, my thoughts always brought me back to realizing and admitting that I was looking for Murphy! (Interestingly enough once I had admitted to my family that I had done this we all confessed the same, and all had come to the same conclusion.)
Which is perhaps the greatest lesson of all. 7. Love and Memories
Our pets are unique! We are blessed to have interactions and experiences with every single one and the impact that these other souls leave on us isn’t something that can be recreated by another. Therefore, the greatest lesson in losing Murphy was knowing that because of him, I have changed for the better! For anyone who has grieved a pet, or is going through it now, or is going to at some point or another: it is hard. It is going to be really hard, but at the same time I found that the peace that came with knowing that such a loving creature was able to be at peace and somehow always in my heart was just as comforting; as well as the knowledge that I even got to have him in my life at all was enough to counteract the heartbreak. Although I write this mostly for you, at this point I realize it is really for me! Honestly, I cried…a lot while writing this but at the same time I smiled a lot! I know that my best friend is with me, and that might be the greatest gift he has ever given me.
RIP Sweet Murphy!