Our precious Samson decided it was time to be our angel-on-high instead of an angel in our home. It was incredibly sad to let him go, but it was crystal clear there was no other choice if we cared for his well-being.
I’ve always heard dogs (and often people) will let you know when they are ready to go. When Sam was sick a month ago his eyes and spirit were clear and his little three pound body was full of life. I knew he wasn’t ready to leave our physical presence. But, weeks later it was equally clear his time of physical breaths were nearing their end. I held him all day long on his last day with us. My husband was home with me and we both walked and cried the entire time. We knew Sam was fading and to keep him here was an act of selfishness. We knew the right and best path for Sam and followed our heads while our hearts broke in two.
Some profound, albeit painful, insights came out of this heartbreaking experience:
We all Handle and Respond Differently to the Same Situation
I knew I wanted to be with Sam when he breathed his last breath; while Michael (my husband) wanted his last memory to be of Samson alive in his arms. Neither choice was good or bad – right or wrong. We both simply had a different perspective and need of how we wanted to say our goodbyes to Sam. I respected Michael’s need NOT to be there and he respected mine TO be there. That respect and understanding was comforting and bonding.
Go with your Gut – Listen to Your Intuition
There was absolutely no doubt in my mind and heart that Sam was ready to go. He communicated that with great clarity. In the sadness of that momentous decision process I knew what was best. If we would stop the frenetic movement in our lives and silence the static in our heads we could hear that still small voice. Slow down and listen to your soul. Doing so will help you make the right decisions during tough times.
Circle of Support
I often talk about having a strong network of support and it can’t be over-stated. Having a strong support system or Personal Board of Directors (as I call it) is essential for overall well-being. When Sam was declining, I called 4 friends that I knew cared about Sam AND my deep pain. They hurt and cried with me. They were very comforting and that support made my pain so much more bearable.
If you don’t have a strong support system – build one. It is often the very thing that gets you through the winter seasons of your life.
I wouldn’t trade anything for the thirteen and a half years we had with Sam. He was joy with four legs and our angel with fur. He greeted us with sheer delight whether we had been gone for five days or just mere minutes for our daily trip to the mailbox. He loved us unconditionally, opened our hearts, and gave us new eyes with which to see the world.
I’m so grateful that my life was blessed with such love, richness, and simplicity. I hope I see and relate in a more kind and gentle manner as a result of that special relationship.
I will miss Sam’s physical presence but will carry his spirit in my heart forever.