Grief: The Most Painful Emotion

Boltar, your story began 12 years ago. You were so little — with soft, wrinkly skin and a sweet puppy smell. Once meeting you, I knew I’d won your trust when you fell into a blissful sleep on my lap. I carried you in my arms like a precious baby until you were too heavy to hold.

You were the smiling face who welcomed me home from school each day. You’d wrestle with my brother and me, chasing us around until we lost our breath. We’d watch movies together as a family and relax side by side on sunny afternoons.

You’d shake with excitement while sitting in the tray of Dad’s ute. And even though you were innately selective about your dinners and toys, bones were your favourite to chew on. I’d laugh as you howled at distant sirens and whined for attention.

I looked forward to dog-sitting you when Dad and Step-Mum were on holidays. I’d let you sleep on my bed, in spite of rumbling snores and grunts. I missed you every day, yet I knew I’d always get to see you again.

However, over the past year, your body had been failing you. Your ability to walk was dissolving; your spine riddled with arthritis. Your cataracts were so cloudy you could barely see our smiles. Your ears were virtually deaf to our calls. Despite your ongoing pain, you still fought to be close to your family.

It was time for you to leave this Earth. You needed us to help end your pain and comfortably enter eternal sleep. And as the day approached, I couldn’t shake the dread and anxiety weighing me down. I was terrified for you in the wake of my own fear of death. Even so, it was more heartbreaking to witness your discomfort and lethargy. Boltar, if only you could teach me to be more accepting of the inevitable throes of death.

I was by your side during your final moments, shedding tears with Dad and holding you close. As we watched you fall away from reality, your suffering ended as you took your last breath. I glanced back at you through my tears as we regretfully closed the door of the vet’s room — it was the last time I saw our special boy.

The memory of you lying motionless on the blanket continues to haunt me, bringing along waves of anxiety and grief. A profound emptiness lurks within my being, as reliving that moment over and over has darkened my days so much that I’m struggling to let go. But as time goes by, the memory begins to resemble an obscure dream.

Afterwards, I visited my Dad’s place and the silence was jarring. Although the house seemed empty, I somehow felt your presence. I even had to stop myself from turning around and expecting to see you lazing across the living room floor. It feels as though I’ve lost part of my family, part of my life, and part of myself.

In between moments of normality, I see your face and feel heavy once again. Even though the torture of your illness is gone, the torture of losing you burns deep. Saying goodbye to you was the hardest day of my adult life and I wasn’t ready for you to go. But I trust that one day when we remember you, love will replace our pain. Your photo now has a special place on my living room wall, as a reminder of how much joy you brought into everyone’s lives.

Boltar, thank you for always being there to dry my tears when I struggled through life lessons and growing pains. Thank you for bringing sunshine into my life for so many years and loving me, despite my flaws. Thank you for being my best friend through times when it felt like I had none. Thank you for teaching me to be more gentle, generous and sensitive. Thank you for helping my Dad through his endless chronic pain. And most of all, thank you for being a good boy.

Originally published in ILLUMINATION on Medium.

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