“Bye!” was the last thing I said to Toryn. She had waved and called back, “See you soon!”
I haven’t seen Toryn in a while, so it was nice going over to her house and having a bonfire. My whole family came and we hung out with all of her family. It was really nice to get out of the house. I was pretty excited to see her again soon.
The trip home was a decently long one, about thirty minutes. The whole time I was staring out my window into the darkness outside. Before, I had seen pastures filled with horses, smelled the calming scent of farms, and felt the car lurch in and out of potholes in the dirt roads. On the way back, all I saw were occasional streetlights as we entered the town and smelled the chemical scent of bug spray.
The potholes didn't seem to change much, that’s for sure.
We were home soon enough, and I was excited to get in my pajamas and get snuggled up in a warm blanket with my dog and watch a movie and close my tired eyes.
But that was just the opposite was what was going to happen that night.
A horrible smell of poop flooded my nose and when I turned around the corner to the opening of the kitchen, there Luna was.
She was down on the ground, her back legs folded in an awkward way and her eyes...she was having a major panic attack.
My family rushed to her, soothing her and getting her outside to the driveway—the closest outdoor area.
While my mom stayed inside for a while cleaning up the couple of poop piles, my brother took a shower, my dad and I stayed outside with the dog—who wasn’t doing any better. Occasionally she would get up to walk—my dad carrying her back half, as her legs were not working at all to even stand. She wouldn’t eat, she wouldn’t drink, and sometimes—this was what scared me the most—she would freeze and her jowls would curl upward, as if she was growling, but it was more like twitching, and her eyes would stare straight ahead into nothingness. Then it would all stop, and she would look around like she had no idea where she was or how she got there.
An hour later, while my brother was sleeping, my dad, mom, Luna, and I were sitting in a circle in the pitch black backyard. Over Luna’s crazy panting, mom said, “Your dad and I are going to the vet. Caitlyn, do you want to come?” I could see the fear in her eyes plain as day.
I nodded. I knew I would regret it if I stayed.
Not long after that, all five of us were in the car on the way to the emergency animal hospital. It was almost midnight.
When we got there, we were asked to stay in the car while they looked at Luna.
Stupid distancing orders, I kept thinking.
My brother Brayden and I were slowly starting to fall asleep, which was hard not to, since it was getting close to three o’ clock in the morning.
I was awake enough to hear that Luna was in rough condition. Rough enough that she was staying the night at the emergency hospital.
I curled into a ball on my bed that night—or, early morning, rather. A ball of fear and anxiety and loneliness. Not soon enough did I fall into sleep’s seeking arms. The five hours of sleep that I got didn’t seem to do any good for me the next morning.
Right, the next morning…
The next horrible morning where we all knew what was going to happen.
Watching movies is a fun pastime of mine. And right about now, all I wished for was that this story would have a fairytale ending. A fairytale ending where Luna would be alright and we would all live happily ever after, the end.
But a hole tore its way through my heart and tears puddled in my eyes when I realized that wasn’t how life was. Luna was facing life, whether I liked it or not.
That morning was hard.
My family met my grandparents at the emergency hospital. We were all waiting for the vets to bring out Luna.
Luna. The panic attacks were not just normal anxiety of being left alone. The panic attack was an upbringing of seizures, which was followed by full-blown seizures at the hospital all night. She was restless and heart breaking and—saddening enough—had a tumor in her brain.
I could not stop crying. Crying in front of people makes me feel so weak, but I coldn’t couldn’t keep it in. I cried and cried and cried…
Cried about how much I was going to miss her, how my life was going to change, how things would never be the same, how I was losing my best friend right in front of me, I cried every time her image came into my mind.
I tied a friendship bracelet around her front ankle so we could always be together. I wiped my tears, stroked her neck, kissed it, and hugged her one last time. I wasn’t ready for this day, not in the slightest bit.
When you wave goodbye to someone, whether it's a friend or someone else, you occasionally know that you’re going to see them again. Then the cycle starts all over again—you see each other, wave hello, oh, someone has to go, you wave goodbye. But sometimes there is an ending goodbye, and you never see each other again. That goodbye is the hardest goodbye of all.
In her last moments, Luna—as tranquilized as she was—stuck out her tongue and licked her nose, swallowing and repeating a few more times.
She always did that when she was happy.
So whether I was ready for this goodbye or not, whether I was wishing for a fairytale ending or not, whether I was hoping for anything but this...at least I could say whether or not Luna died as a happy old dog with her family petting her in her last moments who lived a good life with good people who loved her more than anything in the world.
And I could say with happy tears, “She was.”