The Heartbreak of Losing Our Valentine

The day Valentine died was hard, the day before was almost manageable, but the day before that was awful.

Valentine died on a Monday, but it was on Saturday when we decided that Monday would be her last day. We made the appointment, and I cried. I laid on the bed with her, and I cried. We told the boys about her appointment, and I cried. I looked at pictures of her, and I cried. I went to work, and I tried not to cry.

Valentine was 15 and a 1/2, and I had known her all but 8 weeks of her life. She was a Valentine’s day gift from Whit in 2002. He rescued her from the shelter the day before she was scheduled to be euthanized. Her short life was almost over because nobody wanted her and her little overbite.

Losing a pet that has been with you as you moved 11 times, as you had babies, as you grew and matured, is like losing a part of yourself and your past that you will never get back.

The boys loved Valentine all their lives. They are now 14 and 11, and they have never known a life without her. I was, and wasn’t, surprised at their reaction to her passing. They cried and cried and cried. I did too, but sometimes, especially at their age, it is hard to elicit an emotional reaction from them. That was not the case this time.

Valentine had cancer. She had a large tumor growing on the joint above her left “elbow.” A year ago the vet said it would be too painful to operate, and even if they did they weren’t sure they could remove the entire thing. They also said it may never heal, and she would likely be in pain and suffer if we did it. We decided to keep her healthy and let her live her best life, which included lots of naps, treats and love. Her tumor finally opened Monday morning, the day we had already decided would be the last we could justify our own want to keep her alive. We had an appointment scheduled at 4:30, but we decided to take her in early because she was clearly in pain and distress.

Though the boys weren’t in the room for the procedure when it happened, they were in the lobby, crying in a room of quiet strangers, a candle burning on the counter.  It was painful for us, but it let Valentine end her suffering.

The boys learned a valuable lesson Monday. Though we don’t want to let them go, and we want to be selfish to be with them one more day, sometimes the right thing to do is let a loving pet be at peace.

Some lessons hurt more than others.

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