It is said that there are two guarantees in life—death and taxes. I can’t argue with either, but I would add another to the list—-you will suffer a broken heart. For me, I’ve had more than a few. Most often it’s a person, sometimes it’s a career, and if you are lucky it’s from a most unexpected relationship. I’ve had a few boys in my life and all of them have given me great joy. Most have come and gone, leaving me brokenhearted. My teens and twenties included a couple of boys that left an indelible mark, making me who I am today. In simple terms, one broke my heart by breaking my trust, the other by accepting, then rejecting me. Both were painful, but I don’t dwell on them as they each taught me a lesson that strengthened my heart and prepared me for the real loves and losses of life.
In my late twenties, two extraordinary boys entered my life at almost the same time. The first was my amazing husband who I respect, adore and thank God for, but enough about him. Shortly after we married we brought another “boy” into our lives. He was short, hairy and stubborn. My husband had chosen this tiny, white bichon among the rest of his excited, tail-wagging brothers and sisters. He stood out because he didn’t complain about the hot pavement under his young paw pads as he played among his pack, each waiting to be adopted. He seemed to like Matt much better than me, so I was hesitant to get close to him. However, as boys and dogs always do, he slowly endeared himself to me, especially after I left work to raise the family. He was there for all the big moments in life, the births of each of our two daughters, the many moves from house to house, 3 in all, and even family road trips to the mountains and Florida. With each year that passed, I was unaware of the indelible mark he was leaving on my heart. He became a constant in my life, dedicated to me and counting on me to take care of him. There were times when I counted on him, too. He was by my side when I recovered from surgery. He was my calming comfort during times of family strife. There is no doubt I took him for granted, at least until I started to see the signs, the signs that he wouldn’t be with me forever.
Fifteen years went by in a flash, filled with wonderful memories that always included him. His joints had betrayed him long ago, and now his kidney did the same.Those once bright and happy eyes were now cloudy and tired, pleading with me to let him go. As much as he didn’t want to leave me, I didn’t want to imagine life without him. It took a few months for me to see that the years of joy he had given me could only be repaid by giving him what he couldn’t give himself, freedom from pain and suffering. The family gathered for two days to shower him with affection and thank him for all he had given us, companionship loyalty and laughter just to name a few. In the end it was my husband and I who took him to the vet to say goodbye. The vet administered the drugs and he took one last look at me then back at Matt before closing his tired eyes. In that moment, as the vet said the words I will never forget, ” he is gone,” I felt a piece of my heart leave with him. This was a different kind of heartbreak I had never experienced. The pain was unbearable, but I had no regrets in letting a part of me go. He was worthy of both a piece of my heart and my unstoppable tears. It was my last gift to him.
So, hey younger self, many boys will leave you with a broken heart, but the only ones worthy of your tears take a piece of it with them when they leave. RIP sweet Renie.