Two weeks ago, today, I lost my best friend. While some may say Sammy was just a pet, I will argue that losing my beloved dog was just as hard, if not harder than losing a family member.
The night before he died, he was acting very strange. He didn’t want to eat, and he would barely get up to get a drink of water. In the past, he’s had a few episodes of this happening, so I had hoped he just wasn’t feeling well. His nose was cold, he appeared to be in no pain, and all he wanted was for me lay with him. And that’s exactly what I did. I skipped my planned run, and laid on his bed with him on the floor. Occasionally he would get up to drink, and he would eat the ice cubes I fed him. Other than that, he slept and snuggled with me. When it came time for bed, we moved his bed into our bedroom like we do every night, and we got him settled and gave him more love. We had decided should he not be feeling better on Wednesday, we’d take him in to the vet.
I woke up when my alarm when off early Wednesday morning, and he was laying near his bed on the floor. When I reached out to touch him to see how he was doing, I immediately knew he was gone. I screamed for my husband, and nearly collapsed in grief. My Sammy was gone, and there was nothing I could do to get him back. I was literally hysterical. The days following were torturous, and it took everything I had not to cry uncontrollably. Instead we’d have moments of breakdowns, first me, then my husband, then my daughters…but we seemed to know when one person needed comfort, and we rallied around each other, holding hands, hugging, and taking turns breaking down.
Sammy was a part of every single day of my life for the last 11 ½ years. He got me through postpartum depression, he was there during deployments and extended periods of time for my husband’s Army training…but most of all he was always there when I got home from work to greet me with kisses and tail wags. He LOVED to help me cook dinner, and always patiently waited for bits of food to fall on the floor. He loved to sleep with us, and his soft breaths were the last thing I heard before falling asleep every night. He truly was my everything.
Without him I am lost. I look for him everywhere, even though I know he isn’t there…but last night I could feel him with me. When I was driving home from work I saw a red cardinal cross my path and I smiled. My friend Tracey had asked me the other day if I had seen signs of Sammy’s presence. I hadn’t until I saw that cardinal. Last night I went for a walk/run (it was 92 degrees, running is a struggle in those temps), and in my short 3 ½ mile walk, I had three more cardinals cross my path WHILE the song, “Beloved” by Mumford and Sons played (lyrics here)
Sammy will be forever missed. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the physical ache in my chest knowing he’s gone. But man did we love that dog, and he loved us back equally. And it’s that love that he gave to me every single day that I miss. He taught me to love in a way I never knew I could. He was FAMILY, and losing him has been the toughest thing I have experienced in my life.
For Sammy, I will move forward, as hard as it is. All he cared about was getting and giving love. I pray I can continue his legacy by living life to the fullest each and every day. I will make more of an effort to be present in life, and to never let those I love have any doubt about how I feel. May his sweet soul rest in peace.
Have you ever lost a pet? How do you handle the rude “why not just get another dog?” comments, as if my Sam was some disposable item that can be replaced? Do you have any tips to handle the grief?