I wanted to take the time to write this because I have had a difficult time articulating my feelings after my best friend and companion, Abby has passed.
I rescued Abby when I was 18 years old. She was my first pet as an adult, and the day after bringing her home she was diagnosed with parvo and spent a week clinging to life. I spent every dollar I had saved working at Mcdonald’s to get her healthy. When I took her home, Abby was a scrawny pup with chicken legs and beautiful amber eyes. She grew quickly and (I might be a bit a biased) blossomed into the most beautiful dog. Abby is sweet, the sweetest animal I've ever known. She knows no stranger, and everyone is her best friend. For seven years she's been by my side, a silent and encouraging presence. Birth, a miscarriage, divorce, homelessness; and she has sat next to my side with only love and a need for hugs.
Abby was there as I navigated life as a young adult. I married an abusive man, had his child, and left him a year later when I feared for our lives. My ex husband was furious that I left him, and dumped Abby at a shelter before I could find a home for us. I had to call every shelter in my area to find her, and begged the staff to hold her until I could find a home. They were able to keep Abby in foster for six weeks, and the day I found a duplex and brought Abby home was one of the best days of my life. I look back and remember the summer it was just me, my two year old daughter Bella, and my Abby so fondly. She went to the park every day, had treats every day, and for six months she slept next to me in bed as I went through heartbreak and reformed myself in life again. Of course she has always been there, her pig noises and groans she always makes when I talk to her. We call her helicopter tail because she swings her tail around in a circle when she is beyond excited.
Abby has epilepsy, and has been to the emergency room and specialists and enough vets to exhaust anyone. There have been times I've been told she won't make it through the night after particularly bad cluster seizures, only for her to make it through better than ever. Every time she would have a bad episode, I would have to re teach her everything, to sit, stay, not eat whatever is sitting on the kitchen table for dinner. Sometimes I think she milked it a little bit so she could get away with more. She was good at sitting underneath baby Bella's high chair and surveying for scraps flying down from her pudgy little baby hands. God, she loves Bella.
I had friends encourage me to rehome her, that she was too expensive to care for as a single mother. I couldn’t do much or go out, as being a mom and a high needs dog parent required me to stay home. It never bothered me, and I am honestly thankful my house never felt too empty or quiet. For seven years we loved each other and I kept a place in my heart for her big paws…Three weeks ago I put my Abby girl down after she ingested something that blocked her intestines and caused internal bleeding. Before I realized how serious the issue was, it was too late and she was in too much pain. She was not stable enough for surgery… and I could not afford the $5,000 bill. She laid in the living room and listened as I told her I loved her so much. She didn't have the energy to do more than look at me, but I know she felt my love. Bella hugged her and my partner Nikki was there as she passed over. She was in pain and I had to make a decision to help my best friend one more time. She wasn't going to get better this time. She was so brave, even at the end. She never cried, never complained. She just sat there with her beautiful brown eyes and trusted that we loved her with all of our hearts. My heart is absolutely shattered, and I don't know how to even live life without her. My home feels empty and my heart feels even more empty.
This has been singularly the most devastating event of my life. I say that, and I have lost family members and friends that were close to me. But nothing compared to waking up without my beautiful friend. The bond we had was so strong that I feel like I have truly lost half of my heart. She could not sleep without me next to her… and now I realize that the case was the other way around. I lay in bed and stare at the empty floor and ache. I cannot look at the leash hanging on the wall, or the way the walls echo because there is no big fluffball running to greet me as I come inside. My daughter does not have a cuddle buddy or furry patient to practice her doctor skills on. Even our kitten is lost, as Abby was the giant pillow that always let him sleep on her side. I was not prepared for the wrenching pain and sadness… and I have no idea what to do. It is almost like my mind and my heart are in two different places. My brain knows she is gone but my heart hears her paws tapping on the floor just a room away. I can still hear all her silly groans and picture her running free at the dog park, pure happiness.
Caring for an animal teaches you to go beyond yourself and really love something because it needs to be loved. You learn to come home at certain times and their favorite toys... take them on walks and adventures. Abby was my adventure buddy. Hiking, millions of dog park trips, her greeting guests as I worked in a vet clinic, the myriad of car rides I could take her on when I just wanted someone to share the feeling of fresh air with. I’ve navigated life with the idea that nothing is permanent: friendships, relationships, jobs. As I've loved and lost and found new versions of myself, Abby and her permanence was the peace I relied on time and time again. She was there for every moment I struggled and grew in motherhood. Her gentle eyes always found mine as she would settle in my lap and fall asleep. She was large and silly and it felt like I had let a pony loose in my house, but she was family and I loved her fiercely. So, here I am without her. And I don't know how to say goodbye. How do you live without unconditional, undemanding, kind and pure love? The pain has not lessened, it has only settled into my bones as I wait for something... something to take the hurt. I miss her and what a beautiful heart she had.