We’ve just said goodbye to someone who has been a part of our family for seven (or is it eight?) years. Lucky, our Cocker Spaniel, had been showing signs of rather constant discomfort, and a good number of symptoms of aging. He was still good-natured, gentle, and affectionate, but I definitely didn’t want to wait until his discomfort became pain. I won’t go into details. Those of us with older dogs know the drill.
So after six months of looking at other possible options, and watching him decrease in mobility and even in enjoyment of things he used to enjoy immensely, most of us were in agreement that it was time for Lucky to go to sleep. All four sons chose to be present for the mobile vet’s visit.
About 15 minutes before she was due to arrive, they all took Lucky for one last walk (one of Lucky’s favorite things to do, even today). As they were walking home all together, I was struck with the poignant visual of my four sons, walking with Lucky, who was panting hugely and happily, and the parallel of the journey we all shared. Then, they fed him several of his favorite treats, which he had trouble chewing, but still clearly enjoyed immensely, as well as the attention and petting of our sons and me. It was clearly a precious time for Lucky. His loved ones were near, and he loved us, happily and unreservedly. Clearly, all was well in his simple, beautiful world.
The vet’s visit was hard. I was drawn into deep grief, mine and my sons’, with a pull that would leave us all gasping, in tears, with the pain of loss.
Afterwards, the guys dug the grave, and buried Lucky. They buried a leash (because he loved walks) and some of his favorite treats with him, and covered him top and bottom with towels. I watched as they fiercly shoveled the dirt up, then gently dropped the soil onto the grave. They collected unused rocks to build a cairn, and Tom chiseled Lucky’s name onto the top stone. My love for these young men was painful as I watched them deal with the death of a loved pet, and memorialize it in a way that reflected their love and knowledge of Lucky. Beyond words. Beyond blessed.
As we’ve shared these years of our journey with Lucky, we have learned from him what it looks like to love well, unconditionally and unstintingly. We have witnessed what hope looks like, as Lucky never tired of checking his food bowl one more time, to see if there were some new special treat in it. Lucky frequently offered his presence when one of us was troubled. He trusted us, clearly felt safe with us, and blessed us with all he had to offer: himself.
Goodbye, Lucky. You will be missed, and not forgotten. Thank you for offering all you are to us, and showing us what loving well, trusting unconditionally, and hoping always can look like in a life. On behalf of my sons and I, we love you, and hope to see you again on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.