At first, it was just his eyes I avoided. While I screened the back door on Saturday afternoon, Gaston lay inside by his water bowl, watching me. I talked to him the whole time, hoping he’d wag his tail, hoping to make him feel normal and comfortable and not so obviously old and done. I’m sure he was just looking at me because he didn’t have the strength to turn his head, or maybe because he’d spent the last 14 years looking at me and didn’t know what else to do, but being the kind of guy I am, I read something into it. I convinced myself that Gaston was trying to say goodbye. In hindsight, it’s stupid, but at the time, it was devastating. I couldn’t make eye contact after that.
By Monday morning, I couldn’t look at Gaston at all. His bony frame, his thick coat, in full shed thanks to the warm weather–just catching a glimpse of his frail body was enough to rip me apart. When we went to the vet that afternoon to have him put down, I couldn’t carry him. I wouldn’t have been able to walk. So Jonno held him right to the end, when they took him away. I managed to keep my hand on Gaston’s head during the procedure, though I didn’t actually watch. It was the best I could do.
Sometimes, Jonno’s willingness to be emotional has made me uncomfortable and angry. He’s a demonstrative kind of guy, and when you’re a demonstrative kind of guy (or girl), things don’t always come out in the right way, or at the right time or place–say, in a crowded restaurant, or an elevator. But on Monday, he was the champ.
* * * * *It’s funny how the death of others can become a selfish thing. Yes, you’re glad they’re no longer suffering, and yes, you’re sad to lose a loved one. But you’re also relieved–relieved by the closure, relieved that you can finally stop worrying and get on with your life. You also start thinking, “How many more times do I have to go through this?” and “Is it even worth it?” and possibly, “Enough of this, I’m going it alone.”
* * * * *For those who knew Gaston, you probably have an image of him in your head. Chances are good that he’s smiling and romping in it; he was one of the best-natured, friendliest dogs I’ve ever known. For those who never had the pleasure, here are a few pics.
I think that’s all I’ll say about it for now. Or at least for a while. I’m very thankful for the kind emails and comments, but that’s not really what I’m after. I just needed to get this down while I’m feeling it so strongly.
I miss him.