Friday we had to let go of a beloved family member. Abbie’s health deteriorated to the point that it felt inhumane to not give her peace. It is not at all how I wanted her life to end. It is not a decision I ever want to be forced to make. I wanted her to die peacefully in her sleep after having lived a full and happy life. It’s unfair that her body was betraying her even though most days her mind was still relatively sharp (admittedly she had some bad days there, too).
It is both a blessing and a curse that we had almost 24 hours’ notice before our final good bye. It gave us a chance to try to
drown her in love and affection, but we also had to live with the knowledge that it was the last of everything: the last dinner we’d feed her, the last night she’d sleep in her bed, her last breakfast, the last time I’d look in my rear view mirror and see my original road dog in the back seat.
But I’m grateful that we could take time off to spend with her, to focus solely on her, and to give her some of her favorite things.
I was young and always broke when I first got Abbie. I got paid once a month and usually by that last week I was flipping couch cushions for change. At those times we often ate a lot of noodles and popcorn (both were dirt cheap). She grew to despise popcorn. But she LOVED spaghetti. So for her last dinner and final
breakfast that’s what we made her. I fed it to her off of a fork. Courtney wiped the sauce off her face.
We spent our last night together snuggled in the floor in front of the fireplace. We both agreed that it was the most peaceful either of us had seen her in a while.
Friday morning after her spaghetti breakfast, I used a dry bath powder to freshen her up. We packed her medications in hopes the vet could donate them to a shelter (which thankfully they were able to). And then we left for our final bye bye together.
Our vet is so kind and so compassionate. We left Abbie in the truck while we went in to deal with all the expenses. Afterwards they let us in a side door to avoid the waiting room. They had put a blanket down for Abbie. And they allowed us to go at our own pace.
Abbie loved men. If a man came within ten feet of her, she was going to flirt with him. So we always joked that her songs were “it’s raining men” by the weather girls and “maneater” by hall and oates. Courtney said “it’s raining men” was too dirty, so we played “maneater” for Abbie in her last moments. I’m not sure the vet knew what to think of that. But I know Abbie appreciated it when we used to sing about her.
It’s excruciating to watch the life leave a loved one, but I’m a firm believer that it’s my job to stay with them to the end. After more than 14 years of unconditional love, happy tail wags, and slobbery kisses, we owed it to Abbie to allow her to be surrounded by love and familiar faces as she left her life on this earth.
If there is such a thing as an afterlife, I find peace in knowing that she is with her brother and grandfather. I imagine she’s having to keep those two out of trouble: her brother is off chasing desserts and her grandfather is chasing tail. When she’s not keeping them in line, I hope she’s running painlessly through an open field and flirting with as many men as she can find.
‘Til next time,
PS – I have a second business that sells Christmas ornaments. Friday afternoon, a few hours after we said our goodbye, someone ordered the Golden Girls’ ornament I make. It has the phrase “thank you for being a friend” on it. I believe wholeheartedly that was a message from Abbie.