Why is it so hard to say goodbye?
This is not exactly one of my usual articles as it is more of a blog post, but I felt inclined to write this today due to a very dear friend of mine in the USA, who is about to make one of the hardest choices we as pet owners have to make in life. To euthanize her beloved cat. So I'm dedicating this article to her and her little C-Man who’s time has come.
I have no doubt that losing a family pet has been something most of us have experienced in the past. Whether it was in our childhood; when we lost that furry friend, or as an adult; when those furry friends become more like children to us. The choice is never an easy one, but it is usually the right one and somehow we all know when it is time.
“What greater gift than the love of a cat?”, were Charles Dickens’s words, while Lewis Carroll said, “it is a very inconvenient habit of kittens that, whatever you say to them they always purr.” So why do so many of us become selfish near the end of an animal’s lives and allow them to suffer for their last days. Is it because we aren’t strong enough to let them go just yet?
We love them so much, we convince ourselves that it is our duty to keep them here for as long as possible. That’s what they would want us to do right? It is not the case. By the end they are tired, usually in pain and yearn for everlasting sleep.
When my Little Langy; Santana, got sick from old age, I had been through it several times before and was somewhat of a veteran. Yet it was still very hard for me as she had been through so much of my life with me. But with her, I experienced something special which I didn't have with the others. Maybe it was because we were so close that we understood everything about each other. I think it was more because she asked me for it, while the others didn't want to leave me because I wasn't ready. This one wasn't about me. It was about her. She lived for me for 17 years and I owed her this.
On her last day, I lied down on the floor with her because she couldn’t get up anymore. I let her lick my face all day while we lied there in complete peace. She was always a licker. Any chance she could she would get that tongue out. She loved children and loved her family, and anyone who knew her would tell you what a beautiful canine she was inside and out. Losing her hit us all very hard, but we all felt peace with our choice.
That morning when I came downstairs and saw her, I knew it was time. She must have had another seizure through the night and just looked so weak. It was not even a question whether today would be the day. It just was, and it was as if we were saying goodbye to each other; as if we both knew what was coming at the end of the day.
I know it sounds a little flighty, but she thanked us that day at the vets. She looked at us and just put her head down on my arm and went so peacefully that it is something which will remain with me forever.
There was no sadness in that one moment, only memories of the dog she once was, and the tired girl lying in front of us for the last time with her big chocolate brown eyes saying thank you.
I think pets are the lucky ones in this world because they have the option to be euthanized. At least we; as adults can make that choice for them. No one ever said it would be easy, but sometimes it is the kindest thing a human being can do for an animal.
So for anyone who has gone through this, and for anyone facing it, I leave you all with a poem which was once written anonymously but has helped people all around the world to say goodbye.
Dedicated to Stephanie; my paleo partner in crime and such a wonderful friend, to all my lost babies; Chubby, Cherty, Jessie, Rex, Sabre, Santana and Rusta and to every pet who's gone but not forgotten.