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My favorite hello and my hardest goodbye

It's been a week since we rushed to the emergency vet with the most loving, loyal, furry friend we could ever have.  I've known we were nearing the end of his life for some time.  I spent a lot of time worrying about it over the last few months.  Would I be strong enough to let him go when the time came?  He had a progressive heart disease so I had talked to the vet about what to look out for many times and had read the same articles on the internet over and over again.  I knew his life was getting harder and I had whispered to him that if he needed to let go, it was ok.  I didn't want him to be in pain.  I would miss him terribly but I would be ok.

Now I'm struggling to hold up my end of that bargain.  I really want to be ok but there is no quick fix to make this pain go away.

In the end things went down hill very abruptly and quickly that night and the decision to make him comfortable was not hard.  We were told this was the end and we just wanted to stop the suffering and make him comfortable.  I was surprised by the abruptness and his vet told me that dogs often hide things from their people until they just can't anymore. I just finished the book "The Art of Racing in the Rain" and I'm convinced that just like the dog in the book, he planned it that way for me.  He didn't want that moment to be any harder than it already was.  He took care of me up until his last breath.

We grew up together in a sense.  When I first saw that little puppy full of joy, there was an instant connection and I knew I was meant to be his person.  When he was a puppy my husband and I were in our mid 20s and not even married yet.  He taught us to be responsible for someone other than ourselves.  We were adventurous in those days and so was he.  He was an energetic puppy when I needed that, though, he was always the perfect mix of active and snuggly.  Now here we are, I'm about to turn 40.  My husband and I have 3 kids.  I spend most of my time at home.  I work part time from home and when I'm not working I'm watching our kids.  This lifestyle was the perfect fit for him as an older dog.  He was ALWAYS by my side.  While I worked, he sat in the chair with me or by my feet.  While I played with the kids he sat next to me or in my lap.  And when I slept he was curled up next to me.  He was exactly what I needed at every stage as I grew from the 25-year-old figuring out adult life to the mom I am now that spends most of my time concentrated on family life.

One of my favorite go-to quotes with my kids has always been the Dr Seuss quote:  "Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened."  In fact, I love the quote so much, I put it above my kids' doors in our last house.  I want them to end each day happy and focused on the the good parts rather than crying because the fun has ended.

Now here I am wanting so badly to follow that mantra but I'm finding it so difficult to stop crying about it being over.  I have these scattered moments of desperation where I just want him to sit with me one more time or sleep next to me one last time.  I'm trying with all that I am to change my focus and smile because it happened.  There are so many big and little life moments with him that keep flashing through my mind.  So many moments to smile about...

When he jumped up and down with excitement as my husband got down on his knee and proposed to me.  The miles and miles of Arizona he hiked with us in our pre-kid years.  When we sat at the edge of the Grand Canyon together in awe.  Or that time the three of us snuggled up as close as we could on a freezing cold camping trip in the middle of nowhere.  That time we hiked down a river and accidentally walked up to a nudest colony... I stared at Rocky the whole time because I didn't know where else to look.  Ok, I can't help but giggle with that one.  The many many times he stood up on his hind legs, put his paws on my shoulders and licked my tears when something was wrong throughout the years.  And the many many times he showed his excitement when we were happy about something.  How it never mattered that we moved around so much because we were his pack and as long as we were together, he was happy.  He would get so excited about checking out our new space.  Oh and I remember when he knew I was in labor even before I did.  People say dogs sense stuff like that and they do.  They are pretty amazing like that.  When we brought home our babies and he loved snuggling them.  All those long nights of feeding newborns with him by my side.  He wanted to sleep just as much as I did but he would walk down the hall to the baby's room with me every time and stayed by my side to show his support.  When he taught our first toddler to throw his ball and then he didn't want him to nap so he slept outside his room waiting for him to wake.  How he would push the ball with his nose to everyone and anyone that was willing to play.  When we brought him to dog parks and he only played with big dogs.  We are pretty sure that he always thought that he was a big dog.  Or the swimming at the beach.  Oh, how he loved swimming.  And if someone in our house was sick, he was right by their side until they were better.  He was so so smart and always knew how to be there for all of us.

I AM going to be ok, Rocky.  I promised you I would be and I will.  You gave me so much to smile about and I'll love you forever for that.

 "You were my favorite hello and my hardest goodbye."

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