Last night we said goodbye to our beloved Homer.
People often say “Rest In Peace” when a loved one dies but that’s not how I’m thinking of Homer. He’s at peace but he got enough of resting in his last couple of weeks. So instead of Resting in Peace I’m sure he is Frolicking In Joy, chasing baseballs and snitching tacos off the counters of heaven, delighted at the return to vigorous activity.
We had many great moments with Homer, some of the most poignant ones within the past week. I know he felt loved by my almost constant presence, by sitting outside together, by sitting in the hospital together, by me sleeping beside him the last two nights.
Here is Homer, resting against me as I read the hundreds of beautiful stories people posted about their own beloved pets in response to my Loving Homer blog piece. Story after story of love and pain and healing enough to do it all over again. Picture after picture of adorable dogs and horses and cats. Reading the stories was so soothing to my raw heart, knowing how many people have felt exactly like I feel, and have not regretted it for a moment. Social media can be criticized for being a time suck or often superficial but one of its great uses is connection. To find other people in a similar situation, to feel not alone in your experience, to feel close to and understood by other people, this is technology at its best.
Homer got extraordinary care, IV’s of fluid, medications to combat his GI bleed, three infusions of blood, three generous dogs and their owners (two of whom work at the hospital) doing their best to keep him going.
In the end, it wasn’t enough.
Who am I to decide how long a good life is? Maybe he lived the exact right amount of time. Maybe this was a perfect life for him, rescued from Taiwan, four years with a family who loved him. Somehow we all get an idea of what is enough of a life. But who is to say long is better? Maybe a well lived shorter life can be perfect.
Each person in our family dealt differently with saying goodbye to Homer. There is not one right way to deal with a pet at the end of life and my husband and I wanted to make sure our children each did what was comfortable for him/herself.
Eventually it was just me sitting with Homer for that final step in the journey.
I sat with Homer’s head in my lap as Dr. Nurre injected first the anesthesia to make him sleepy, then the euthanasia meds. He slid his stethoscope under Homers chest and we sat in silence, tears running down my face, until he softly said, “his heart has stopped.”
And then I sat alone with Homer until I knew it was really just the form of Homer left, knew that Homer’s soul was not in this body anymore. I’m typing this through blurry eyes because I am still crying.
But I know this. Homer doesn’t have to be here for my love to go on. He was here and he was loved and that doesn’t have to end. Even though he is not actually lying beside me while I type anymore, I will never stop loving Homer.