When I was 13 the dog I grew up with, Lady, was being ravaged by cancer. We got the call from the veterinarian in the middle of the night saying most of her internal organs were being consumed. My mother and father made the decision to let her go right then and there. I was never able to say goodbye and it wreaked havoc on my tiny heart for months.
About a year later we swung by an animal adoption day for a local pound on a lark and met the sweetest mutt puppy in the whole entire world. We brought her home and my sister, who was 5 at the time, named her Laura after my best friend.
Laura was beyond a doubt, the happiest dog on the planet. She was always smiling and would dance, on her toes, when excited. She was great to wrestle and was always willing to cuddle and lend an ear when you needed someone to just listen. She had epilepsy and gained a remarkable amount of weight from the medication she was on (also probably due to her love of cheese which we kids frequently snuck to her) but she would still dance and flop on her back looking for a belly rub whenever we came home from school, work or a weekend at a friends.
When I moved out three years ago, I missed Laura tremendously and enjoyed visiting my dad's house so I could visit with her. Christmas was always the best time to visit because my father always gets catering and there were always lots of cheese sneakings to be had.
When I pulled into my dad's driveway on Christmas Eve this year with my husband and sister in tow, I expected Laura to come darting out of the house to greet us. When she failed to do so a dark feeling swept over me and as my love and sister bounded into the house with armloads of gifts I stood a moment under the stars (oh, how I miss those country stars) I heard a whimper and a whine and my heart broke. There, on the edge of the forest, lay Laura. If I had parked on the opposite side of the driveway I would have hit her. I tried to lift her, but her legs were jelly and I screamed for my husband as I cried. I made the call to the veterinarian, bundled my husband and sister back into the car and drove to town with our dear old friend.
While she was lying on the table with her head in my hands, Laura looked at me with eyes that told me not to cry anymore, she was awfully tired and ready to go. She was all smiles until the very end. I sobbed the whole ride home, but I'm happy that I was there with her and was able to say goodbye.
My heart aches and there is a void in my life where she was, but I know she's at peace and that she will be waiting for me, with a smile, a dance and a piece of cheese at the rainbow bridge.