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In our closet, there’s a small round tin with some kind of strange engraving on the top (I’ve actually never been able to figure out what it is, but I’m sure it’s touching, whatever it is) that has traveled with me through two house moves. I used to keep it in my nightstand alongside a little card with a paw print and a tuft of fur attached to it because I wanted to make sure that my cat, Koshka, whose ashes are contained in the little tin, would always be near me.
E’s cousin, Heidi, said good-bye to her dog of nine years today. I had the pleasure of meeting him back in 2007 when she stopped to stay with us while traveling across the country. She packed up her car with whatever provisions she thought she might need to get her from Florida to Oregon, and took off with her sole companion: a little pug named Cubbie. It was an adventure in the true sense of the word and she was sharing it with a four-legged companion who meant the world to her.
It’s amazing to me how pets can, without ulterior motives or any kind of agenda other than just wanting to love us, imprint themselves on our lives, especially when they travel through some of the biggest moments we experience alongside us. My Koshka was there for me when I was struggling in high school, when my dad married my step-mother and I felt a little alienated, when I was kicked out of the house, when I lost my job, when E moved out here, and everything in between. Cubbie was there for Heidi while she was still adjusting to life in a state far from where her family was, an epic journey across the country, meeting the guy who would one day be her husband, marrying said guy (and acting as ring-bearer in their wedding, complete with a little top hat), and becoming a mother. She writes it all far more eloquently than I could in a post all about Cubbie, but suffice it to say, he was her constant companion for nine years. Saying good-bye to a friend who has been there with you through thick and thin for that long, regardless of how many legs they walk on, is one of the very hardest things someone can do.
When the end of a relationship with a pet comes, even if you’ve known it was coming for a while, the shock of it is still difficult. With my Koshka, I struggled with wondering if she was suffering and whether I should, perhaps, just put her out of her misery, to feeling guilty that maybe there was more I could be doing but I just didn’t have the funds necessary to do it. She let me know in the end when it was time and that final drive to the vet, knowing that it was the final drive to the vet, was one of the saddest moments I’ve had in my life. Holding close to my heart this little, fuzzy creature who had slept next to my head, purring me to sleep each night since I was sixteen years old, meow-barking at me when I came home from work each day, and who I had known longer than most of the people in my life at the time, was painful in and of itself. Knowing that I had just asked someone to end her life made it all the worse, even though I knew it was time.
Ten years later, I still miss her.
I didn’t know Cubbie well, but I know he was good to Heidi and for that I think he was amazing. You should all go visit her site and give her a little love as I think she’s needing it right about now.