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by MJones
Rated: E · Essay · Emotional · #2314160
A joy-filled reunion quickly turned into an experience that would test my courage.
*NOTE: For context, it would be helpful to read this first:
 The Voice (Part 1 of a work-in-progress)  (E)
A perfect stranger ... a scary encounter. When a bad thing happens for a good reason.
#2314033 by MJones

A Tearful Farewell

I was quite confident our reunion would ease the recently acquired anxiety I was now holding in my body. It was just his way … no matter what, he always knew how to make things better.

* * * * * * * * *

Due to the unexpected extension of my trip, it was approaching a month since we had been together. Sadly, he was no longer young and was starting to experience more frequent health issues, so I hadn’t felt entirely comfortable being away for that long.

As anticipated, our reunion was joy-filled ... a heart bursting with the delight of a child greeting a wiggly ball of fluff whose tail was wagging as if it would never stop. But his eyes gave away what he was trying to hide. Concerned, I began to watch him very closely. Despite my diligence, we found ourselves in the emergency room just two weeks later.

The fine details have blurred in my memory, but I clearly remember the news wasn’t good. During the progressively more difficult six months that followed, I did whatever I could to make his good days extra fun and his not-so-good days as comfortable as possible. We visited our favorite places, took shorter than usual but still pleasant walks together, and played with his favorite ball in the backyard. Often, we would just sit quietly together ... he on my lap, and me with my hand caressing his soft, white hair. As things progressed, and I began to administer sub-cutaneous fluids to keep his kidneys functioning, he never once complained. He would simply look to me for reassurance and then lay perfectly still until I was done. He knew it was my turn to make things better. Those thrice daily sessions became special bonding times for us … just like so many other experiences we had shared over the years.

The love between us was unconditional and real. He was my ever-faithful companion and always-eager student, but he was also my favorite teacher. He taught me how to live in the moment, make time for play, and to be silly and laugh every day. He also taught me to be curious and brave. He was my wingman … helping me to push through my shyness and connect with others. There wasn't a single person he didn't want to meet. When I was with him, I felt confident in a way I never had before … and always, always I felt loved. I'm quite certain he didn't have a mean bone in his body. Much to the contrary, it was filled with tremendous joy ... joy he readily shared with everyone. He made it look so easy. Those who had the privilege of knowing him loved him … most especially me.

We had always been able to communicate easily, for ours was a language of the heart. We also had implicit trust in each other. So when his dark brown, always-expressive eyes looked at me that fateful morning, I knew the time had come. I held him ever-so-close and told him over and over again how much I loved him. I thanked him for telling me it was time so I didn't have to make an unthinkable decision, and I promised I would stay with him. I also told him that I would be okay, partly because I didn’t want him to worry, but also because I knew I needed to remind myself of what the voice had taught me … I had so much more courage than I ever thought I had.

Later that day … with tears of sadness streaming down my face … I said goodbye to the sweetest, silliest, most joy-filled, loving friend I had ever known. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life … a life I knew would never be the same.

What I didn’t know was that right around the corner, I’d be facing some health challenges of my own.

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