June 6: So Long, Old Friend...

August 13, 2015

We were sitting outside on the porch enjoying the beautiful, sunny day. Eva was busy with some colors and the dog sat by my feet in the shade of the chair. We spent many a day like this in the summertime.

A friend pulled into the driveway to drop off some papers, and the dog came tearing toward her like she was the neighborhood cat. He'd tangled his leash around the chair, however, and spilled most of my coffee in the process.

As I surveyed the damage following her departure, seeing most of my precious morning coffee now splattered all over the ground, I shook my head and muttered, "damn dog."

My two year old, sitting just a few feet away but presumably out of a whisper's earshot, piped up and said, "what damn dog, mama? He's right there!" Slightly confused, she pointed to our dog, now sitting peacefully in the sun.


We laid our furry friend to rest tonight. 

His little body was fighting so hard just to stay alive, and it was time. His health had unexpectedly taken a turn for the worse two days before, and we had a feeling early on that he wouldn't make it through this. 

He was as old as we were a couple, and we celebrated our twelfth wedding anniversary just days before. Aside from a mere month or two after we got married, he's always been with us. 

He lived in every house, and there's been four.

He greeted every baby as we carried them through the door for the first time--all five of them.

He was there for every birthday, for every anniversary, for every family movie, and for every pizza dinner. 

Except the one tonight. 

The plates of half eaten slices on the floor that lay undisturbed, the leftover crusts in the garbage--they testify to the life that was lost. Reminders of a permanent shift in the way things are. In the way things will always be from now on.

On Sunday when we took him to the vet, the kids prayed and asked God for just one more day with our doggie. They shrieked with joy when they found out he would, in fact, be coming home, for now.

We made sure they knew it wouldn't be for long, that his heart was sick, that his little body was tired. But we ended up with exactly that: just one more day. I love that He answered their prayers.

We gave our doggie lots of snuggles, cuddles, and pets. We hugged him often, told him all the things we loved about him, and ate lunch outside in the sun. I held him in the car as we drove to get some ice cream for dinner, a last meal if you will. He hadn't wanted to eat all day, though, so I began to doubt he would even want the ice cream. I wished we hadn't waited so long.

But the kids picked strawberry with sprinkles, and he gobbled it up. Every last bite. 

When we got home, we said our final goodbyes, myself through many tears, and daddy took him to be put to sleep. 

Every memory we have as a family somehow involves him: one who was loyal to a fault and beyond patient with the children. It'll be difficult and strange adjusting to a new normal that doesn't include him... 

A normal where the bits I drop on the floor while making dinner won't be snarfed up. One where there's no one to eat the cucumber butts or sneak food from the kid's plates. A normal where we come home to a truly empty house. Where there's no one to greet us wiggling at the door. No one waiting on the mat outside the shower, no one to dart out the front door during the summer months. 

He was a good boy, that Jackson, and for better or worse, he'd been through it all right there alongside us. He may have been a damn dog at times, but he was our damn dog. And I wouldn't trade it for anything. We miss that little guy so much.

One more day is still never really enough.

So long, old friend.