Hey Golden Friend,
This is a love letter to you. Certainly not the last. You dwell in my heart and memories, so I write. I have no words of farewell, yet I’m compelled to write. I write because words stay. Because words help me breathe in and out. Because I’m learning to live without you.
We met more than 13 years ago. I was only 22. When you came home, so small and cute, the light came with you. Your life was full of trips. You loved the mountains, you loved the ocean, you loved the sea. You were always happy and fun—even when I was disconnected or busy. Whenever I returned from abroad, you came bounding to greet me, running and jumping as if you were dancing, escorting me to my old room. My mom always said you were happier when I was there.
It’s because we were brother and sister, you and I. We were the spirit of youth.
You knew where everybody was sleeping, our waking-up times, and routines.
You knew so much about us even if you couldn’t speak.
We shared all our holidays. I would walk you out every evening; that was my lucky duty. We shared secrets, going to places we shouldn’t because you wanted to run and do something crazier. You ran so fast through those woods. You broke your fantastic golden legs, twice. We even had to replace both your knees. You were so dynamic, your own body couldn’t follow you.
One day, you started to nose-bleed, often. You seemed tired. They initially misdiagnosed you, seemingly investigating every part of you but your face. That was okay for you too. You eventually got a face scan and learned, or they confirmed, you had invasive nasal cancer. The tumor was malignant, malevolent, and active. This foreign body had invaded you thoroughly.
Yet, you didn’t show anything. You remained as joyful and vibrant as ever, defying cold reality—defying death’s spell. You had the same cute faces, celebrating Christmas and all the birthdays with your large, golden smile. You were in all the pictures. You waited at the bottom of every ski slope.
Throughout all those months, I think you were fighting to stay, doing everything to stay with us just a little bit more.
During your year of weakening, you never complained. Not one instant. Not one second.
You fought for life with bravery and grace. I bow to you.
Last Monday, I witnessed a steep escalation in your decline. You didn’t want to eat much. You had more difficulty standing up and walking. But you were still you—your eyes remained full of life and you chose to eat again.
I think you knew we weren’t ready for this yet; that we weren’t ready to let you go.
You summoned a boost of energy over the next few days. Perhaps, you were trying to protect us—to ease the burden of the inevitable truth. Or were you playing hide and seek with death? That’s how it felt, as I saw the fragility of your thin, scrawny legs paired with the indomitable sparkle in your eyes. You even played in the garden. You saw a cat. I think I saw you smile too.
Yes, you did gain one more week against her.
Monday, January 24, my mom called in the morning. She said you had changed a lot over the last 24 hours. Her voice had changed too. She did so much for you. I came home urgently. I found you on the floor, on the beautiful Mexican fabric I gave you, isolating in our mom’s bedroom. I saw your eyes and understood.
We talked in front of you. You were listening, looking at both of us alternatively. You were still there—trying to make the best, rightest, highest decision. I tried to give you water and food. You said no to both.
You didn’t want more life.
I stayed with you that day. I talked a lot. I read next to you. You saw me reading all your life. This was familiar to you. I remember when you were young, I would review my classes with you—reading them out.
I didn’t want you to feel our pain. It wouldn’t have been fair; you never allowed us to feel yours.
At the end of the afternoon, I felt your paws. They were a little too cold. We put warm, winter dressing gowns onto you. We called the vet in case there would be something left to do. At some point, I felt guided that it was okay if you wanted to go.
I thanked you for all our summer walks, for your kindness, for your jokes, for your smiles—for knowing when I wanted tubes of coffee capsules and bringing them to me. I thanked you for contributing to our joy every day since you entered our lives.
I told you we would meet again, that we’d always be together, as forever friends, in whatever form that would take.
Thirty minutes later, you turned onto your side to fully lie down. You started to sleep. You never truly woke up. We tried to hydrate you. It didn’t work. You kept your head on my arm for awhile. You had your people with you. My boyfriend even came to say goodbye. My mom stayed all night next to you.
Just before dawn on Tuesday, we saw that you were gone.
When I entered the room, I found you just as you were the night before. You hadn’t moved. We stroked you a lot. We moved you to the living room. Something amazed me— your face felt happy, serene.
You still had that same spark. You were beautiful. You are unbelievable.
We place candles around you. We pray. We organize your funeral. Your dance with fire will take place this Friday. It will be our last trip together. I will wear black, of course, something beautiful.
I’m bizarre. I’m happy to be seeing you again soon.
Ducat, my sweet golden friend. I don’t know what I will remember most. Your excitement with snowflakes. Your consistent, unconditional presence. Your eyes filled with life and joy until your final day. Our dances to music in the corridor. Your support through my breakups. Your intelligence.
I will always remember you and my mother walking together like best buddies and all the places you went together. The team that you formed with her. I was your sister, she was your mom. You two were inseparable. I hope she will be okay without you.
Ducat—I hope you’re fine wherever you are. I hope they have cheese, chicken, apples, raspberries, and as much light as you do. They are lucky to have you there. And I must say, I hope we will meet again soon. Even deeper, I hope I have loved you “enough.”
“To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ~ J.K. Rowling
“Sophie has decided to start a small foundation, Rainbow Pets, in order to provide services free of charge to people and families moving through the loss of an animal companion. Services will include emotional healing of family members, financial support to help fund cremation, burial, and other expenses, as well as some framework and support for ceremonies and rituals. Special funding and ordering of funerary items (funerary urns, gravestones) will be possible through Rainbow Pets. The foundation will also help you find the funerary service that suits you for your beloved animal. You can connect with Rainbow Pets by directly contacting Sophie here: [email protected] Please share about the foundation with friends, family, community, and anyone that may be interested in such support. Thank you!”
If this article is part of the ecosystem winners, all profits will be redirected to Rainbow Pets. ~ Sophie