Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Five Years

Where did the time go? Has it really been five years? I remember it as though it was yesterday. It was a Thursday afternoon. I called my wife around 4 at her job to let her know I was leaving work early. She was doing the same. It was not a happy occasion. In fact it was one of the more somber moments in both our lives. Waiting at home was our dog, Henry, who was dying of cancer. And the reason we were leaving early was to bring him to the Vet to end his suffering.

Never in my life had I been forced to make such a gut-wrenching decision. To end someone’s life, even someone who was clearly in pain like our Henry, broke my heart. He was a part of our family, our fella, as I referred to him every chance I got. The idea that he would no longer be with us was unfathomable.

When I got home, my wife was already there. Henry was on her lap and she was doing her best to comfort him. He hadn't eaten in days and was shaking in her arms. I took him for one last short walk. When we got back, I called the Vet to let her know we were coming down.

My wife and I took turns hugging Henry. Instinctively, he knew our hearts were breaking and he licked our faces. Here he was in pain and he was trying to console us. After a few final moments I realized it was time to go. Maria took off his collar, picked him up and we both made our way for the car.

Even though the Vet's office was only a mile away, it seemed as though the ride took forever. When we got there we had to wait for the doctor. She finally came and took us into the examining room. I held Henry in my arms, and with tears in my eyes, I asked her if she was certain there was no other way. She reassured the both of us that we had done everything possible for Henry and now it was time to let him go.

She explained what was going to happen next and said we would have as much time as we needed to say our goodbyes. She took Henry to shave his leg so they could insert the needle. She then brought him back to us and we petted him while he was on the table. I was sobbing the whole time not wanting to lose him but knowing in my heart it was the only humane thing to do.

When we were ready, the doctor came back in the room and injected him with a sedative. He went limp in our arms but not before he gave me one last lick on the mouth as I said goodbye to him. The next injection she gave him was the one that ended his life. I was stunned at how quick it was. One minute he was with us; the next he was gone.

I lost it completely. So inconsolable was I that I could barely stand up. The doctor let us stay in the room with Henry for a few minutes to say one last goodbye. I put my face near his and kept whispering into his ear how much I loved him and how I would never forget what he meant to us.

When we got home, Maria finally broke down and cried. I hadn't stopped crying since we left the Vet. I looked around the house not wanting to believe what had just happened, thinking maybe it was all just a bad dream and that he would somehow reappear all healthy and vibrant.

But it wasn't a dream. It had really happened. He was gone and he wasn't coming back. All we had left were the reminders of his presence: Both his bowls on the kitchen floor, the medicine that we were giving him to help him with his pain in the fridge, and the toys he used to play with all strewn around the house.

I posted Henry's passing on Facebook that evening and thanked everyone who had been praying for us. It was a small consolation I suppose to know that so many had gone through similar experiences with their pets. Before going to bed, Maria and I decided to eat a little something. It was the first time in years the two of us had an uninterrupted meal.

Suffice to say that night was the longest night of our lives. The pillow where Henry had slept the night before still had his scent on it and I buried my face in it, tears still streaming down my cheeks. I'd have given anything to have him sleep by my side one last time, but, alas, the pillow was all I had.

I will never forget the impact Henry made on our lives. Even after five years, his memory still lives on. He was an indelible spirit that made people laugh, and he brought joy to everyone who knew him. But most of all he was a blessing to us.

He is waiting with Puffin, our dearly departed cat, in the garden near the Rainbow bridge for that day when we will all be reunited and cross over into Heaven. And when that joyous day arrives, we will hug him and squeeze him and he will land kiss after kiss upon our tender cheeks.

For it is written, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

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