Coming home today, even though she’d been too tired to get up and greet me for many months, I still expected to hear her, or see her, as I ascended the stairs.
But, as I’ve learned from losses past, I had to remove the triggers. As soon as I arrived home from our last moments together at the vet yesterday, I collected the bowls, I washed the bedding, I packed the toys, and put it all away.
As I entered the house today, there were no reminders. No crate blocking the kitchen, no bed to clean, no footsteps coming from the bedroom. No Layla. And it hurt.
My sweet Layla, fifteen years old, was my dearest and most loyal companion. Sending her to Heaven was so much harder than I anticipated.
We lost our other pup, Casey, at the end of June to heart failure at age 13. Both losses were hard. Trivial, in comparison, to the loss our son. But still, the losses hurt.
When I was sick, years ago, in the year after my kidney transplant, I was amazed at how Layla helped me. She would sense a fever and start pacing, hours before my temperature rose. She never left my side, and sat by the front door when I was away. When I spent weeks at the hospital, all I wanted was a visit from my dog. She and I, in a way I’ll never quite understand, were soulmates. I was meant to be hers, and she mine.
I’d take a shower and find her lying right outside the bathroom door when I came out. Even at her age, I’d get up to walk to another room, and she would follow. I was never alone when she was with me. And she was with me, through all of it.
She was there for my transplant and the agonizing year that followed. She was our first baby, even before we were married. She moved with us to our new home and watched as the fence was built, so she would have the freedom of her new back yard. She slept at the side of the bed through my five short months of pregnancy. And she lay on the blanket with our sweet ten-month-old son the day he finally came home from the NICU.
And this past week, we made a bed on the floor for movie night and she laid right on the sleeping bag with my son. She, moreso than the two of us, helped welcome that sweet boy to our home. We, his new and permanent parents, were strangers. But Layla, the friendly, loving, affectionate family dog, was immediately his family.
It’s hard to say goodbye. It’s hard to come home to an empty house. It’s hard to remember that she’s not here.
But that’s the beauty of love. With all of our beautiful memories, she will never truly be gone.
Thank you for being all you were and so much more. We have faith you’re with our angel and enjoying a beautiful reunion. We miss you, sweet girl. You’re in my heart, always. 🐶😇