The Long Goodbye

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I don’t know anyone who particularly likes goodbyes. But I have been known to skip them altogether. As in, I will walk past your place on the day you are leaving and just keep on walking. It’s not because I love you too little. It’s that it hurts too much. It hurts and I am not brave. And so pretending that it’s not happening has always been comforting to me. I know I will see you again and stalk your Facebook page.  But today I’m facing a goodbye I cannot avoid. I keep medicating myself with music, exercise, wine and social media. But it never leaves me. It just stays crouched in the corner watching.  When I make eye contact, I completely lose my marbles. So I at least try not to do that so much.

I have to say goodbye to the only four-legged child I’ve ever known. My Moxie. I remember when she was a puppy, days old, the runt of the litter. Her chocolate fur all smashed to her face. Easily the ugliest of the bunch. But it was love at first sniff of puppy breath for me. No turning back. I was all in. And, like anyone else who begins to love some thing or some one, I immediately became aware of the fear of losing her.
Moxie has a liver issue. Could be cancer, could be disease. It’s bad. We’ve looked into all of our options and tried remedies only heard of on the internet. But it all ends the same way. I guess it’s not surprising for an aging lab. We found out at Christmas and have eaked out a few more months (thanks to my husband who has buried himself in the research). But my goodbye to Moxie began long before this.
At birth her breeders were told to put her down. Too weak, too small, too sickly. But with their love and attention, she pulled through. This is how she earned her name. The risk of losing her was there then gone,  but the some-day stayed.
At two, Keith and I made an innocent but stupid mistake that caused Moxie to have a heat stroke. Near her death, I begged God to save her. To give her another chance. And, if he did, I promised I would not protest too much when her real time came to leave. The risk of losing her was there then gone, but the some-day stayed.
So here I am. Not protesting. Only grieving. Grieving the little ball of fur who made me a mom. Grieving my walking buddy, my foot warmer, and my duckling. Just like any animal lover, it is the small things I will miss:  seeing her sprawled out like a bear rug, watching her soak up the warmth of the sun, the click of her nails approaching after I’ve opened a bag of chips. I cannot remember life before Moxie really. Missing  her will be the hole I walk around in the day and fall into at night (Millay).  At least for a while.  I know time heals.  But time does not fill.
Our some-day is here.  I cannot avoid this one. It’s not today. And maybe not tomorrow. But we are assured it will be soon. I don’t grieve prettily.   But I will hold grief and gratitude side by side in the days to come.   My God has been very kind.

6 thoughts on “The Long Goodbye

  1. Mary, I feel your pain. I also really appreciate the way you’ve described it all. MUCH more poignant than I could in the same situation. If you ever need an ear to listen, you’ve got my number.

  2. Mary,
    I’m so sorry to hear about your having to say goodbye to Moxie. We had to say goodbye to our 13 year old yellow lab, Prissy, 3 years ago in March. It really DOES leave a huge hole in your heart. We now have a chocolate lab named Snickers, who is a hoot. She hasn’t captured as much of my heart as Prissy did–not yet–but give her 10 more years, and she probably will. A friend asked me if I named her Snickers because she’s chocolate and just a little bit nutty. Well, I’d never thought of that, but it’s a perfect analogy! 🙂 Time will help, and I hope your very big heart will someday find room to love another puppy who needs a GREAT family like yours. There will be one that God has picked out especially for you to fill that hole in your heart. By the way, Jesus said we need to be like little children in order to enter the kingdom. Well, this little child feels like since the lion will lie down beside the lamb in heaven, then there must be God’s other wonderful animals there as well! Call it child-like faith–but I believe it!

  3. i’m so sorry….my heart grieves for you because i know that pain. it is raw…it is real. i don’t even like to talk about it because the emotions come flooding back but thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings-
    praying for you.

  4. I am so thankful for the sweet times and great memories you have had with your precious Moxie. It gives me cause to think about Cadee who is 14+ and has liver disease. Thank you for sharing your beautiful journey and know that so many of us understand. I pretty much think there will be dogs in heaven . That just has to be true because Floppy is already there.

  5. I’m so sorry that you’re having to grapple with losing a 4-legged child. You have so eloquently described the struggle of knowing when that dreaded time is approaching. We adopted an older GS a couple of months after we got married. She had physical & behavioral issues from the neglect & trauma she experienced before she was rescued. But she was sweet, loyal & stoic to the end. We cried all the way to the vet’s office and all the home. But I’m so thankful for the 5 years we had with her. I love the photo of Moxie that you’ve included. Give her an extra hug for me please.

  6. I shared this with my wife today. We had to put down our old man today after 12 years of life with us. He was not a “good” dog, but he was full of life, definitely unforgettable, and an integral part of our story. My wife’s heart is huge, and her connection with animals rivals Dr. Doolittle,. While today is difficult for all of us, it is especially hard on her. Thank you for sharing your inmost feelings here with the rest of us. It helps just knowing others have traversed this path.

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