I’ve been lucky I guess that until now, I haven’t really had to endure the loss of a close friend. Although I feel this puts one at a disadvantage as well. I’ve been losing Fergal one day at a time over the last couple of months as the tumor in his mouth slowly grew. But I knew it was coming and I’m thankful that there wasn’t a dramatic moment when he was unexpectedly ripped from my arms.
Preparing for his departure was emotional and stressful but it was dispersed. And surprisingly, it gave me some of the most precious, intimate moments with him. The ritual of bringing his water bowl up to the bedroom at night. Helping him down the stairs each morning. My favorite times were the medicated “baths” every few days to ease a skin infection. We did these in the shower together. The trick, our vet told me, was to really lather him up and then leave him as soapy as possible for ten minutes. He loved being in the shower with me and he adored the massage he got along the way. We’d sit next to each other in the shower (me naked and him covered in bubbles) and we’d chat. Well, I’d chat. It must have looked absurd. Then came the towels – Fergal loved getting toweled off. Full body rub!
I feel like I have a hole in my chest. In my heart. But I know it will get better. I’m managing to hold onto a zen feeling today as I wash his bed and put away his toys. I’m thinking of flying back and forth across the country with him on my lap. Of taking four, sometimes five, vizslas to Marymoor early Sunday mornings to minimize the chaos our pack could unleash on the park. I’m thinking of spooning. Of having him curled up between my legs when I watch a movie or read a book. Of how I could walk down the street in Toronto and have complete strangers (who had met him through my dogsitter) come up to him and say “Hey Fergal.”
I don’t want to be in the apartment but I’m afraid to leave it as well. At least now, I don’t have to worry about the pure anxiety Fergal exhibited every single time I walked out that door without him – convinced that this time I was never coming back.
I was doing well this morning until someone who works for me sent a simple note, asking how I am and telling me she’s thinking of me. Such a simple act of kindness. But even as I cry, I feel happy for the 12 years of laughter, joy, chaos and love I experienced with my Fergal.