My yellow labrador retriever Lucy was the most gentle and beautiful soul I’ve ever known. She was born on February 14th, a Valentine’s baby through and through. She had the softest ears, the happiest smile and always knew what she wanted and how to get it. I knew she was a little sick and slowing down, but she looked so normal when I went home for spring break. I could never predict she would pass away just a few weeks later from kidney complications at only 9 years old.
I had just finished a math midterm that I had been extremely nervous about and was sitting on the grass with my friends when my mom called me explaining she was at the vet, and things weren’t looking good. I asked the doctor if we’d be able to hold off for 24 hours, so I could at least find a flight home and say goodbye. But, unfortunately, Lucy didn’t have 24 hours. Her kidneys were barely functioning. And honestly, that’s the worst part: having to say goodbye so unexpectedly but also not being able to be there with my family and say goodbye properly.
The first days after she passed were the hardest. I felt so removed from it all because I was still at school. I was binge watching anything on my phone that had her in it, I think more so out of disbelief than anything else. I went from successfully distracting myself to feeling my eyes start to water and from being asleep to waking up crying. It was just emotionally exhausting switching from numb to incredibly emotional all the time. It was hard to explain to people because this type of grief can only really be understood by people who have pets and who have also felt that unconditional love. It doesn’t seem as obvious or tangible as losing a human relative might be.
I went home the weekend after, and it was so quiet. I now saw how many times I would just look in on her bed when passing from room to room and how many times I would absent-mindedly call her name. She was always quiet and barely ever barked, but I would always listen in on her footsteps at night because she always wanted to sleep in my room. And now the silence was deafening.
My family had a dog before Lucy, and in a cosmically aligned way, she passed away exactly 10 years to the date before Lucy did: Apr. 28, 2013. It honestly helped me bring more meaning to all of this and made it seem more like fate. I hope they’re both playing with each other, wherever they are. In this way, I think my parents were a bit more prepared for the loss of Lucy than I was. Our previous dog had been there before I was born and was almost like an older sister to me in a way, but Lucy was like my baby and it felt so different.
It’s still hard to look at photos and videos without crying sometimes, but I love having those pieces of her. I love when people ask about her, and I love having an excuse to show them photos of her. I’ll never not miss her, but I’m just glad she’s not in pain anymore. The vet told us how strong she was for battling her kidney issues so silently for so long, and I couldn’t have said it better myself.
A lot of people don’t get pets because of the fear of losing them, but I know if I had to do it all over again knowing it would end in the same way, I would in a heartbeat. The unconditional love and amazing experiences you get from taking care of and nurturing a furry companion are so worth it. Only a certain immense amount of love can give way for such loss.