This is not a martial art post, but something I put on Facebook and hope it helps those in the situation I’m in – coping with the inevitable loss of a dear friend. – Matt
14 years is a long time on this earth.
By the time I was 14, I already wanted to crawl back in my mother’s womb and start all over again so I could play war, GI Joes, Constructs, and swim at the Haon’s house every day until I died.
I often have to figure that dog’s live that life til their dying day.
So for 14 years Sunny has lived that life. But, in the past two years, she’s slowly showed her age. The dog that hasn’t been to a vet in, well, I don’t remember, has slowly begun to succumb to old age. But, it’s not the cataracts, the weak hips, and the loss of hearing that destroys my heart…but the fact I’ll never get all those times back with her.
When you have a dog for 14 years, they move from dog to sister, daughter, friend, best friend, and overall source of strength when human’s aren’t there to fill that niche. They sleep next to you until they can’t climb in the bed, and fall down playing when they used to show such prowess and agility.
Yet, they never stop.
And that’s my Sunny. Her attitude, even when she has moved from an all-purpose dog to being on pills for her bladder…her attitude has never changed. The smile, the tail wagging, then awkward dog dancing when she sees me and her enjoyment of life has never waned.
She’s a human in the truest sense of the word in that she’s sinless, always willing to be ride along and be happy, and never complains about her plight. She is simply living each day it’s fullest, and when it’s not full, she does something to make it full.
In the end, at the end of 14 years, I no longer fret about losing her…I only fret about what I know will be an empty spot in my heart that she has filled for so long, that none can replace. I fret that she doesn’t know what she truly means to me because she can’t, in the realization way we humans have. I fret she feels replaced.
Sure, I have Audie and Phoenix, and a cat who thinks it’s a dog – but they will never take the place of the dog those on the Huntington Dog Beach aptly named ‘Tigger’ for her style of jumping into the ocean to fetch. They won’t replace the nights we had no home, slept in our car. They won’t replace the tears her wagging tail dried. They won’t replace the times she helped nurse my broken body back to health by simply laying by me. Those nights she pulled her drunk dad up the stairs to bed, or sat over me while I nursed away pain and sickeness.
And while Audie ages, and Phoenix shows promise of being another Sunny (albeit a more rambunctious and crazed verson), they hold dim candles to the companion I know in Sunny.
So, tonight, pet your pup a little longer and harder, because one day you’ll spend more time cleaning up after them than playing with them. Your laughs will become apprehensive recognition of inevitability, as you face the future.
You’ll face the end of that journey…and you better be alright with it.
Because they will need all the love, affections, tear drying, laughing, kisses, hugs, bravery, stunts, goofiness, and compassion they showed you for their lives in return, as you face that final part of their journey together.
I’m ok with it – doesn’t mean I like it, but I am ok with it and embrace the lessons she’s teaching me, as she has for 14 years.
Here’s to Sunny…and old dogs throughout the world.
May she sleep soundly and when it’s her time, may she go with a roar fit for battle, not a soft cry meant for submission to that timeless enemy all men and dogs know: death.