Today we said goodbye to you and I still feel the emptiness deep in my heart. Goodbye weighs heavy on me and it’ll be some time before I start to feel like myself again. This I know for sure.
Leaving our house earlier today with you made me feel a certain way— a way that made me sad, but nothing would prepare me for the way I felt returning home without you. I wanted to call out to you as I walked through the door, the way I always would. I found myself searching for you as I wandered through my house from time to time, but then I would remind myself you’re no longer here.
I rocked Nathan in his room on my rocking chair and I looked around to where you’d sit— there in the corner by his crib— but you weren’t there. I weeped in silence holding my baby, though I tried not to cry too much because I didn’t want Nate to feel my sadness. I tried so hard not to cry in front of him, but I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing. I thought of you and the way you would greet me by the door as I walked in each and every day. You were always the first one I said ‘hello’ to. I thought of the night we finished Nathan’s room and I sat in that very same chair for the first time and you laid there beside me, both consumed in the moment and in this new space we would soon spend so much time in together. I remembered the night we brought Nate home and how you would run and grab your toy every time Nathan cried and you’d come and drop it between my legs as I held the baby in my arms. I thought of that night when I was still sleeping on the couch because I couldn’t get up on my bed from the c-section pain and I woke up to the baby crying. He was in my bedroom, in his bassinet beside Joey, and you slept there by him… And when he started to cry, you ran to me and woke me up from my sleep. I remember you licking my hand and standing over me. I woke up to you breathing on my face of how close you were. You barked at me and then you ran back to the room and you stood beside the bassinet as Joey watched over the baby. I walked in and you were there. You were always there.
We nicknamed you “NANA” because you reminded us of the dog from Peter Pan that watched over John, Wendy & Michael. You were always beside Nathan. When we transitioned him from bassinet to crib, you slept beside him each night. Harley, you were so amazing— like an angel sent from above. I always felt you were more than just a dog. I had such a beautiful & special connection to you and I will forever remember the way you made me feel all these years. You were my best friend. You watched me in my best and you were there by me at my worst. You celebrated all the highs and lows of my life for the past nine years and you’ve been the greatest friend to us and to our son. How lucky of Nate to have met you. He sure does love you! How wonderful to have experienced and seen the joy of my first child as he looked over at you and laughed at the sight of you. I loved the way you two were together. You’d come over to where Nate was sitting in the Nuna lounger and you’d lick his feet, hands or even head sometimes. He would crack up and my heart would melt. I always envisioned those days in my head. I went as far as thinking of the day Nate would walk and he’d grab you by the tail and drive you crazy… But I soon learned that day would never come. And it broke my heart. It shattered every little dream I had of you and him together.
On Saturday, November 23rd, my world felt like it collapsed a little bit. It was the day we took you to the vet and it was when everything changed. After that day, it was one vet visit after another and before we knew it, you were going four times a week to get fluid therapy because days and weeks went by and you still refused to eat. You were diagnosed with Stage 3 Kidney Disease and it was terminal. By the time you started to show any signs of being ill, your kidneys had begun to shut down.
For weeks, I sat there for minutes that felt like hours and fed you by the mouth with a medicine syringe. I watched my husband carry you out to pee because you no longer had the strength to get up. The same way I had to help you in the car for every vet visit. The last few days were the worst… You weighed 48 pounds (from almost 70) and you were already peeing inside the house because you could no longer hold it. I remember you laying on the grass and me sponge bathing your tummy area because all your hair was full of pee. I never wanted you to feel dirty or soiled. We tried our very best to save you, my boy— and selfishly, I kept you around longer because I was never ready to let you go, though I knew by the look in your eye you were ready when I was. I knew it by your tired stare and the way you’d muster up strength to lift your head or your paw and place it on me. I looked at you looking at me and I knew in my heart of hearts no medicine or fluid therapy in the world will help you get better. It was too late and your kidneys were shutting down. Your health was decreasing by the day and the playful Harley that I once knew was no longer there.
My old friend, I want you to know that I miss you quite terribly. I’ve missed you from the moment I knew you wouldn’t be here for long. I have missed you every second since you’ve been gone. I find myself searching for you in the light of this home and in the corners where you loved to lay. I search for you and I remind myself you’re not here, though the memories linger in my heart and in the corners of this place we call home. The home that we built with you in it. But this home feels a little bit lonely now without you and it’s going to be such a hard adjustment waking up every day and holding myself back from saying, “Good morning Nini” or “Let’s go pipi Harley” or “Bebe, where’s Harley?” I’d like to believe you waited this long to meet Nate. A part of me feels you wanted to make sure we’d all be okay and you were ready to go when you knew everything would be alright.
They say you save a pet when you bring them home, but in so many ways, you saved me. For nine years, you showed me what pure, unconditional love was like. For nine years, you greeted me with a wagging tail and a grateful spirit by the door. For nine years, you watched me grow, you watched Joey’s & my relationship blossom into a marriage and you’ve been our faithful companion since the very beginning.
So, thank you, my Harley boy. Thank you for your unrelenting strength to have stuck around longer than the doctors said you would. Lord knows you were ready, but you knew I wasn’t. Thank you for all the life you gave to our years. As you took your final breath, I held you close to me and I whispered to you how much I loved you. I must’ve sounded like a broken record. More broken than record, that’s for sure. I held you close to me and I didn’t let go. I didn’t want to let go. I cried so many tears for you, my boy and I am still crying now. It comes and goes it waves but I still feel you all around me… And I miss you, my Harley. I miss you, I miss you, I miss you. I hope you had a great last day on earth. We took you out with us for lunch, you felt the breeze and sunshine on your face… I tried giving you ice cream but you didn’t want any of it, but you did go for one last walk with us. I hope the feel of the wet grass on your paws felt nice. And I hope you never forget what a beautiful life you lived and all the memories we made together.
I will always remember you, my boy. I find peace in knowing that you left this Earth painlessly and peacefully, and that we gave you everything we had until the end. You were loved beyond words and by so many! Our little slice of heaven, that’s what you were. You are and will always be… BRIGHTER THAN SUNSHINE.
Until we meet again, old friend. Love you since forever, til forever.