We let our beautiful dog Madeline go to heaven last Monday. I started this post then but I have been too emotional to finish it. It was so unexpected. I did not get to say goodbye. She was almost 10 and we thought she had years left. We were wrong. You just never know. This is my goodbye to my first baby girl.
Just a week before she was still running around and running away. She was still playful and barking and rolling around in the grass. She loved to run at lightning speed out the door so unsuspecting visitors felt like they had to stay and try to find her. Always looking for attention, my Maddie. Then it got really, really hot and Maddie stopped running. She had her physical and they said she was fine, just tired from the heat and a little older – but healthy as far as they could see. She slowed down significantly in the days before July 4th and then, on Independence Day, she stopped moving. She did not bark once at the fireworks she always hated with a passion. She just laid on the kitchen floor and did not even try to get to her place on the couch or laying by my bed. We brought water to her mouth and she barely drank. We knew something was wrong, and we thought she had been bitten by a snake or had an infection.
The morning of July 5th Ross carried Maddie to the car because she could not walk. I gave her a big kiss before I got on the road to watch my sister graduate from Marine Combat Training at Camp LeJeune. Only 2 hours into the drive Ross called me with the shocking news that Maddie had cancer. Cancer that filled her gall bladder and had spread to her lungs. Cancer that caused something in her body to rupture and create massive internal bleeding. Cancer that stopped her from walking, stopped her from barking and in the end, stopped me from saying goodbye.
The vet said that when the internal bleeding started the pain started and that while we could have opted for a $5000 surgery to try and stop the bleeding we would not be able to treat the cancer, as widespread as it was. She recommended that we put Madeline to sleep. I asked if they could wait until I returned the next day to say goodbye to my baby but she said that Maddie was in such pain that the delay would be inhumane. Because the last thing in the world I wanted was for Madeline to be in pain, I agreed that Ross and Miles would say goodbye for me and for Sophia.
Ross took a last picture of Madeline on her stretcher after they said goodbye. He said he cried when he kissed her.
I could not help myself. I cried so much in the car that I had to pull over. I told Sophia that Maddie had to go to heaven and we talked about it, and we cried together. I am glad I had her with me. It was hard, but she is a strong little girl and we hugged each other and talked about how happy Madeline would be in dog heaven.
Still, I was devastated. This may sound silly, but I wanted to tell her how much I loved her and spend some time with her without the kids to tell her that even though I hadn’t paid as much attention to her since I had Sophia and Miles and Violet, that she was my first baby and that I loved her deeply. I wanted to say thank you to her for being absolutely wonderful with all of the babies. She never bit or scratched. She never got angry with them. She loved their hugs and kisses, even when they were rough. She cuddled with all of us. I wanted to say that I was sorry I got angry with her when she pooped all over the floor in the weeks before her death. Had I known she was sick, things would have been so different. I know that she knew I loved her. I know that she had a wonderful and happy life with us. I just wanted a little quiet time with her to say my goodbyes.
I did not know until she was gone what a huge part of my life she was and I will hold all of my memories close and remind myself that we never know how long we have with any animal or any friend or family member. I hope that I will let her memory teach me to treat every day I have with my loved ones as a gift, because that is exactly what every day is.
So Goodbye Old Friend, and thank you for 10 wonderful years as your mommy. We were so lucky to have you in our lives.
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