I have written quite a bit about broken hearts. Mostly, my own. The broken heart I am usually referring to is the one that was fixed almost a year ago. My talented surgeon filled the hole in my heart and sent me on my way.
This week I experienced a different type of broken heart. One I have experienced before, so I know that this painful hole in my heart is not fixable.
On February 15, my family suffered a loss. Our beloved pug, Ginger, was put to sleep. The decision to do this was the right one, but it didn’t make it any less difficult. Ginger was 15 years old—my sister, Anne, pointed out that Ginger had been with us for a dog equivalent of 105 years. Ginger’s health had steadily declined over the last year and we were told last Spring that it would take a miracle for her to last a month. The miracle happened, but it wasn’t a sustainable miracle. In short, our girl was suffering and her quality of life was zero.
Her passing was swift, painless, and peaceful. I held her in my lap until the last possible second and I stayed with her little body for a good while after she was gone, communicating to her how much she had been loved and how I knew she was not in pain anymore. Leaving the vet’s office without her was horrible — going home to a dark and empty house was excruciating. We had fed Ginger her usual breakfast that morning and there was still food scattered around the kitchen. I grabbed a broom and swept up her mess for the last time, my vision blurry from the tears that fell.
The house remains too quiet and too clean. No one in our family isn’t mourning. I have turned to my two major vices: sleeping and working. It has occurred to me that I no longer have anyone or anything that relies on me for their care and survival. My three men are all perfectly capable adults and now Ginger is gone. This is the first time since 1995 that I am not wholly responsible for the well-being of a dog or child. Ginger’s passing has brought with it the certainty that I am now officially old and useless, at least in any way that truly matters.
Ginger was a precious soul, a source of constant joy, and a best friend to anyone who loved her. Together we walked many miles and I was so lucky to have been her mom. I will never forget the night we first saw her face peeking through the door of the home that we picked her up from. Love at first sight.
That love will never go away, nor will the hole that Ginger’s death has left in my heart. A huge part of me died right along with her. Sleep in peace, sweet girl.