Finding the Courage to Say Goodbye
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Today should be one of the happiest days of my adult life. It is Bill’s last day of having to commute to Portland.
From here on out, he’ll only be working locally. His work schedule will be shaved in half and we’ll actually get to have dinner together every night. My wonderful husband will no longer be drop-dead exhausted every night.
The French Champagne is chilling, ready to pop open when he walks in the door around 8:00.
Instead, I am trying to gather up all my courage in order to be able to say goodbye to the Dog-Love-of-My-Life, Bo.
I don’t know where to find it. I don’t want to say goodbye to him; not ever.
I realize that all life ends, as surely as it begins. But I can’t imagine the void in my life his death will bring. I can’t imagine my life without him.
About 11 years ago, Bill went away with his old friends for a guys’ weekend at one of their cabins.
The kids were at their dad’s, so I had the weekend to myself. It was awfully quiet, rattling around that big house, all alone.
I had wanted a dog for some time, so I decided to check our local Humane Society.
What I had in mind was a scruffy, long haired mix, about 35 or 40 pounds. As I walked into the horribly depressing pound, I was instantly drawn to a big, black lab mix. As I paused to say hello, he pressed his body against the bars, keeping his eyes on mine.
So, I talked to him for a bit and moved on.
For the next hour or so, I kept returning to his cage, time and time again. Finally, I asked one of the caretakers if I could take him outside to the play area and get to know him better.
Bo wasn’t as interested in playing with the ball as he was in leaning against me and maintaining that soulful expression.
Another hour in, I admitted to myself that I was as smitten with Bo as he was with me. But I’d have to talk Bill into adopting him.
Reluctantly, I left Bo in his awful cage and went home. Bill wasn’t exactly tickled to hear my plans, but he agreed to them, in spite of his best judgement.
Bo came home and over the course of the next year, I discovered how fiercely protective he was. The neighbors weren’t happy, and neither was I. I was beginning to think I had made a big mistake.
Luckily, our move to the country gradually changed Bo into a sweet, mellow lab. He and Molly still raise a ruckus every time someone’s car pulls up to the house, but it’s all bark and no bite.
For the past 11 years, Bo has been my constant companion. Every time I was recovering from surgery, he would lay by my bedside, comforting me with his presence.
During the warm months, he would follow me wherever I went, playing in the pasture while I was down in the garden. He and Molly stick together like a couple of thieves. I worry about what his leaving us will do to her.
A few months ago, Bo started having a hard time putting any weight on one of his back feet. The vet said his arthritis in both hind legs was horrible. I got two types of medications from her and went home, hoping for the best. Secretly, I was praying he had partially torn his ACL, as he had once before, in his youth. I knew I was lying to myself, hoping against hope, but the dread in my gut told me I wasn’t kidding anyone.
As his lameness has progressed, I have had to come to the painful realization that, in spite of the pain meds and anti-inflammatories, Bo is in constant pain. Having suffered from severe arthritis for 11 years, I, of all people, should know how miserable he is.
I can’t bear to see him suffer. And I can’t bear to say goodbye.
I have never had a dog like Bo and I will miss him always. But I will somehow summon the courage to show him how much I love him.
I love you, Bo. Thank you for giving me a lifetime of love.