My Mother posted this gem on Facebook the other day:
It struck a chord with me in so many ways. It could sum up the last two years of my life, and it could sum up a very difficult decision I’ve recently made.
The decision means my house will be a bit quieter tomorrow. It will be a little less rambunctious. I won’t be getting barked at. Literally.
Not because my boys are heading to their Father’s house for the weekend, which is usually the reason – but because we’ve been faced with letting go of a beloved family member, our beagle Charlie. He’s getting old, and he’s in pain and he could probably go on living and trying – but it would be difficult for him.
Choosing to put a dog down is never an easy decision. Well, actually, sometimes it is much easier than others – like when Charlie’s little Beagle brother, Buster, died. He had cancer, and despite months of therapies and thousands of dollars spent trying to “save” him from his incurable disease, in the end it was very clear he had to go. Like, right that minute. I drove to an emergency vet at 1:00 in the morning, crying my eyes out while on the phone with my then-husband, who was on a business trip in Israel. He kept me coherent enough through the tears to drive, and he helped talk me through the first-time feeling of delivering a beloved pet to his death. I didn’t expect it to overwhelm me the way that it did. I held Buster as he died and I couldn’t help but tell him how sorry I was over and over.
But Charlie’s death is much bigger, much harder. And the decision to put him down – much more significant.
This isn’t just any dog. And the timing of his death is not insignificant.
You may be thinking, “Everyone says that,” when their furry friends are leaving us. But no, truly, this isn’t any dog, and this isn’t just any ordinary circumstance.
You see, Charlie represents more than just the end of his own life. It’s as though he is a much larger symbol of not only a life ending, but a life chapter that’s closing for me.
My husband proposed with Charlie. We named him “Charlie’s Diamond Surprise” on his AKC registration papers.
He walked all the way from the Boston Common through Downtown Crossing to the Seaport every single day for about 1.5 years to go to work at the startup my husband founded. I even pitched a story about them and got it placed in Network World, featuring them both.
He was our “first son” and I remember missing him on our Honeymoon.
We’ve been going through a very tough divorce for almost two years now.
We’re at the end, and the papers are are about to be signed.
And it’s a sad, sad, circumstance…. like making the heartbreaking decision to put Charlie out of his pain. Like being strong enough to recognize when it’s over. Like having a very difficult epiphany and making a choice – one that not everyone will agree with or understand – to realize things will be better if you only let go. You’ve tried long enough. It’s time to let go.
Charlie represents everything our marriage was. In the beginning it was hopeful, vibrant, a bit naïve, definitely rambunctious and energetic. Goofy. Appreciative. Then came things that took our attention away, less time together, the addition of little ones (in Charlie’s case, a baby beagle brother who sat on him all the time for some reason, and a Chihuahua sister who adored him), and new responsibilities. Moves and new jobs and changes that the years bring. We slowed down, we got tired…
So putting this dog down feels a little like my own death. It’s letting go of so much more than him.
I could go on forever with stories. But I’ll just share a few more photos at the end here.
I want to thank my friends who gave me advice on when to tell my boys. I gave them the chance to say goodbye tonight, and we had a good cry. Then we had some laughs making Charlie a “last meal,” which consisted of a LOT of kibble, some chicken and his favorite, carrots. My 7-year-old wrote him a note (OMG, so adorable) and my oldest son chose a few things to bury him with when we get his ashes back. We’re going to lay him to rest next to Buster ‘s ashes somewhere in our yard.
We’ll cry. We’ll mourn. And we’ll find reasons to laugh amongst the tears – and we’ll talk about what a crazy dog Buster was and a good, loyal, faithful companion Charlie was.
And life will go on.
RIP, Charlie. I love you.