Yesterday, my mom’s dear 15-year old yorkshire terrier, Sophie, was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease. The vet told my dad she didn’t have long to live and that it would be a hard death, so my parents elected to put her down. She will be going to doggie heaven this morning.
Last night, Ruby and I went to my parent’s house to say good-bye to Sophie. Before we left, I tried to explain to Ruby that this is the last time she would ever see Sophie. I’m not sure she understood, but she was able to give Sophie a million kisses and tell her good-bye in her own special way.
Last night, as I thought about life without Sophie’s sweet little face and spirit in it, I felt devastated. We gave her to my mom for Christmas when I was 15, so she has been around for half of my life. I never thought I would hurt so badly over the loss of a pet. And it got me thinking just how scary and heartbreaking it would be to lose Ruby.
As special needs parents, we cope with unimaginable losses every day. For some it could be the loss of the child we had always dreamed of. For some, it is coping with the fact that our child may never walk, talk or act like kids of the same age. Those losses are devastating. However, each and every morning, when I see Ruby’s smiling face, the pain of those losses melts away and all that remains is love. And with all that love, also comes the fear of losing her forever.
When we love someone (or something) so unconditionally, we open our hearts up to immense loss. A loss so scary, that I shudder to imagine what it feels like. And while that fear can be so strong as to feel paralyzing, I know that to let it take control would steal the joy of living.
Today, as I say good-bye to a sweet little poochie named Sophie, my heart is full of grief. But I am also thankful to her, because she taught me how to open my heart fully and love without fear of loss.
Rest in peace, sweet puppy.