Today, I made the hardest decision of my life - my soulmate, the one who has been with me for everything, Tyson - was sent into the ether. My baby. My poor, poor baby. I truly believe he held on for me (I made him promise not to leave until he knew I would be okay, and truly, I wouldn't have been until now).
I've always said it's not the dying we struggle with. It is the goneness. The goneness is what eats us alive. It is the first time you want to call someone to tell them something, and realize they are really gone. It is the first time you walk into your house without an enthusiastic tail wagging, because it is gone. Goneness is the loneliness that hits us at 2am, and we wake with wet eyes and an aching heart. It is the questioning of what next, because what we thought was reality, is now gone.
I can hardly bear this goneness. At times, the whole world feels gone.
Charlie and I randomly (or so I thought at the time) decided to come home from Colorado early this year. I was planning on stopping at a hotel Wednesday night, but something pushed me to drive through the night.
When we arrived home Thursday morning, Tyson was collapsed, surrounded by his own feces. I knew instantly. I finally knew it was time. I cleaned up and then helped him up and it was confirmed. He collapsed every three feet. He couldn't even stand to pee. His legs kept getting tangled. His eyes looked at me with confusion and pleading.
This was not Tyson how he wanted to be anymore.
I knew, but I couldn't accept it. A video sent to the vet, and a response with "concern about his quality of life" shocked me to reality. I made the appointment for the next day, to give me time to spend with my love.
We watched the sun go down on the farm. Ryan had to carry him back into the house because he couldn't make it.
I slept next to him on the floor, until he got up, woke me up, and gave me that look that said "stop being so ridiculous."
Of course, this morning, he got up, made it to the door, and took himself outside. A hope ignited in me. But when we went to bring him back in, it was the same.
At noon, I realized I only had three hours left. Hyperventialtion took over my body and I curled up on the floor with him again. How in the hell do you even deal with that finality? Easy. You don't.
I told myself that in the wild, he would have been dead three weeks ago. But still, playing god has never been my thing. I had always hoped he would die in his sleep, and yet, here I was, facing the decision of the ultimate kindness.
So I took him today. Because that is how it is with your soulmate. You face all the bad stuff together. Just like Tyson did for me, through all the years. We have been a team, a friendship I will be eternally grateful for. When your friends go through things, you are there for them. You stay by their side, no matter how hard it gets. So I returned the kindness Tyson has unequivocally delivered to me throughout the years and stayed, unfalteringly, by his side. I held him and he finally slept. Slept. Then stopped.
I am stopped, in a way, too.
Letting go of a pet is always difficult. Entering my house, it feels immensely empty, even with people in it. It fucks most people up the way the death of a human does, sometimes worse. For me, though, Tyson's passing is making me question everything I have ever done in life - having a kid, getting engaged again, taking up photography - because he has been such a huge part of me. I sit here, writing this, wondering: who am I without you?
Maybe that is melodramatic, I don't know. But it is true. So, so true.
We have matching eyes, and a matching soul. He has seen me through all of the tough things I have gone through, and forgiven me all the wrongs I have done. It is the only unconditional loves I have experienced in this life, aside from family. Even this morning, when I think he knew what was happening, he did not leave my side and made sure I was as okay as I could be.
I know Tyson and I have seen each other before and will see each other again, as our souls are forever entwined. Maybe not again in this lifetime for me, but we will cross paths again, and our hearts will rejoice in the knowing.
I am a storyteller, though. This is how I deal with life - by weaving tapestries of words to inspire and heal. I need to tell this story to heal myself now.
I adopted Tyson my last year of college - his ad on Petfinder featured a fluffy, huge puppy in a little wood box with his other littermates. At three months old, he was already 40 lbs and it was getting difficult to adopt him out. Patti (who I found out is my mom's third cousin) kindly held on to him for two months until I finished the semester and Nick and I went to pick him up.
He threw up in my car every half hour on the long ride from Minnesota to Hartland. He has never been good in the car.
Before Charlie, our life was filled with adventure. Tyson helped me get in shape and develop a love of running and hiking. We would spend hours at the dog park along the river. When I went through a terrible break up and moved to Denver, Tyson came with and we explored every day together.
Then, we moved back and survived the most horrific three years of our lives together so far. I bought a house, got married, got pregnant, survived a morbid marriage that ended in divorce only three weeks after Charlie was born.
Tyson was there for me and with me through it all. Even on the worst days, our morning and evening walks helped me push through.
Then, he was there for Charlie. From Charlie's first day home, until Tyson's last day with us, they have been aloof friends who tolerate each other with an odd brotherly love. It was like Tyson knew how important Charlie is to me, and so he opened up space to him.
Tyson, in general, does not like kids - but he loved Charlie, for me. Maybe it was a tolerant love more than anything, but I know he did it for me.
The twelve years I spent with Tyson were nothing short of wonderful - filled with goofy doggie smiles and his selective listening. He put up with all my stupid selfies, all my shenanigans, all my bad decisions - and he loved me all the same.
So buddy, I know I am a mess right now, but I promise I will be okay - because you helped me and I know you will help me still. I will never know a love like ours, but that is okay, because we will always love each other - through all time and space. You loved me when no one else could, and I will never be able to thank you enough. Say hi to Milton if you see him, wherever you both are now. May you run free and wild forever. Until we meet again, in the next form of life.