By Jorie –
Dear Sweet Kenzi Doodle,
As I begin writing this it is the night before one of the biggest and most heart-wrenching decisions of my entire life—tomorrow I must help you cross the Rainbow Bridge after 12 years of your precious, vivacious, spunky life. A life that has been full, yet far too short.
It’s no easy task to make this type of decision, I pray you know this. You are my family. I am your sissy. But it is a decision that comes to us naturally: we all know it’s time and that it’s fair. That doesn’t make it any less painful, though. Never did I prepare myself for this day to arrive, but yet here it is looming before me, towering rather, a giant monstrous ache in my chest and my belly. I am almost afraid I can’t face such a task, but I must, for you. Because you would do it for me. The love of a dog is unlike any other. And this is a pain unlike any I’ve ever experienced before in my life. Will it ever dissipate?
Losing you tomorrow means I will lose a piece of myself, my soul. My heart is broken and you will take a piece of it with you across the Rainbow Bridge when you go—but dear, sweet girl, you’ve also left your little paw prints on what’s left of my heart. Precious, cherished memories to make my heart smile a million smiles more than the tears that fall from my eyes.
You came into my life when I needed you most—that waggity tail, wiggly butt, and all. That’s how you got your name: Kenzi Doodle. You doodled around as a little puppy and the name stuck. We hadn’t intended to bring you into our family but you just sort of fell into our home and there you were, you just fit like a glove and we three—Momma, Kenzi, and Sissy—made up an unconventional happy family. I remember the first day you came home on Thanksgiving Day; I couldn’t have been more excited. You were perfect. And what gracious irony for you to be a Thanksgiving Day gift, for you brought boundless happiness and gratitude in your wake.
Over the years as I grew more and more chronically ill, diagnoses list growing ever longer, you were always by my side through it all—the good, the bad, and the ugly. All the new and unpleasant symptoms, all the horrible days spent hiding beneath the covers of my bed, unable to move from pain. You were just there, licking my face, nuzzling that soft little head of yours against me wherever it fit, letting me know I had you to lean on whenever I needed you. You simply knew, you were simply there, and that was enough.
Sometimes you were in the background, though, supporting me from the sidelines. Just knowing I had your presence was a comfort in itself, though. Knowing my little girl was around was also enough, it was as good as if you chose to come snuggle with me. You didn’t always have to actively help me, but your unconditional love was a perfect comfort during all my hardships.
As I struggled with my mental health, too, you lifted me up on my darkest days and if you could’ve talked you’d have told me it’s okay: go through the motions, take your time, experience your feelings unabashedly. Some days I felt like you really could talk, like maybe we had our own secret language that no one but the two of us understood.
And that brings me back to today. Today, this awful, agonizing day. It’s now the morning of the day I’ll send you over the Rainbow Bridge. Your health is now even worse this morning. You know something is awry. You know it’s your time. Our secret language is still there in lulled whispers even if the rest of your functions are failing. You little tail is still able to go gently waggity wag when I’m there, petting your soft white fur, resting my hand on your warm body as I feel your heartbeat. I think about your heart beating, knowing these moments are fleeting. We’re saying to each other, “it’s okay to feel this right now.” Even in your dying moments you continue to comfort me as you sense my overflowing sorrow and my tears dropping onto your fur.
It’s now the night of the day that you crossed the Rainbow Bridge. It was perhaps the hardest day of my life, but it was such a peaceful transition, and that’s all I could ever ask. It’s all I prayed for as I held your paw. Momma and I were there with you the whole time, surrounding you with endless love and comfort. I held you so tight, wrapped in your soft teal towel, rocking you softly and whispering to you how much I love you. Momma did the same. We sat there while the vet tech administered the solution.
I felt you leave. I told you it was okay to go and your little paw went limp and I peered at you long enough to see your eyes begin to glaze over, time seemed to melt into surreality. I still held onto you nonetheless. I didn’t want to leave you but I had to accept that your beautiful spirit was gone from your precious body. I stroked your soft speckled ears, kissed the divot in your little head one last time and looked at Momma with tear filled eyes and said, “okay, let’s go.”
It’s now the day after—you’ve been gone from our earthly world a whole 24 hours. I’m still unable to process the fact that you’re gone forever in your physical form. I can’t fathom walking into Momma’s house without you there to wag your tail and run to greet me. The grief is overwhelming, all-encompassing. But like Momma said, “the quantity of tears we can shed is proportionate to the love we feel and the love we receive.” I truly believe that.
But… I can function a little better. The tears come little further apart, even though the loss of you is still painfully fresh. Momma sent me pictures today from our vet’s office. The techs made a beautiful art collage out of your paw prints using colorful stamp pads we gave them. I’m sincerely grateful we had a wonderful vet office all these years and they took such good care of you and loved you like their own. We donated the rest of the stamp materials for future pet families who want colorful paw prints, too. Ultimately, we want something positive and giving to come out of our sorrow.
It’s been a few more days now. I’m comforted today because you finally came to me in a dream. I wondered how long it would take. I laid on the couch with my little Phoebe girl and took a nap. I dozed off and never expected you to visit me then and there, but you did; I think you knew I needed you at that time. I haven’t been sleeping well so couch naps have become the norm this week. The dream was beautiful and consoling.
Little Doodle girl, thank you for everything you gave me—the list is endless and I could never write enough words to encompass all that you mean to me. I am grateful beyond measure to have had you in my life for almost 13 years. My soul is shattered and my heart is broken into a million pieces over losing you. You took a piece of it with you across the Rainbow Bridge. I hope it is amazingly beautiful there and that all your short-lived earthly suffering is diminished as you run wild and free. I feel reassurance that we were able to give you a worthy final weekend of life and that we were right by your side as you transitioned, just as we were throughout your whole life and you were for us.
You are more than just a dog, you are our family. You are loved more than you could ever know. You have left paw prints on our hearts forever.
In Memory of