In loving memory of Harmony
November 15, 2000-April 9, 2016
The beginning and the end
A week before my beloved Boston Terrier, Harmony, died I took her in to see her veterinarian, Dr. Wright.
As we neared the end of our life together I no longer completely trusted my view of Harmony. Even though her illness stopped hiding in the shadows, and instead pranced about in plain view with a cruel audacity, I shuddered to think my instinct to preserve and protect might well be a curse.
I wanted Harmony to live forever. But, I came to realize that my frantic need to hold on for the mere chance of one more day might cause me to delay making the most difficult decision of all. In doing so, I might inflict undue suffering on the soul I loved most of all.
Knowing this, I wanted Dr. Wright to exam Harmony, gauge her true state of being, and help me plan the best course of action.
On the drive to the doctor’s office, I continued what had become my constant prayer; that Harmony passes with ease and grace in the familiar and comfortable space of her home.
We arrived at the clinic, checked in, and then sat down on a comfortable padded bench seat located to the right of the front doors.
It was a beautiful April afternoon, and the floor to ceiling windows of the waiting room allowed the spring to flow inside and wrap itself around Harmony and me.
Harmony lay on her right-hand side, stretched out atop the entire length of my bent legs, her cute little butt down by my knees, her head resting comfortably on the lower part of my stomach.
At that moment, all was calm, and it was one of those times when Harmony appeared fine. She was breathing easy, snoring ever so lightly, her chest rising and falling with no effort at all.
I asked myself,
“Was Harmony really sick?”
“Was I overreacting?”
“Had she suddenly gotten better?”
“Was the science that showed Harmony’s heart was growing larger, but at the same time becoming weaker, no longer reliable?”
Or, was my hope speaking opposite of fact.
With all my heart and soul, I wanted hope to win the day. I begged and pleaded with Life to give us more time, agreeing to whatever terms that would allow me to cradle my love, stand up, and walk out the door.
But in the end, I stayed, and my gaze remained fixated on my deaf angel, my princess, my best friend.
I pulled Harmony up closer so that I could feel the faint exhale of her breath. I relaxed into the tingle of her whiskers on my cheek, all white except for one that was jet black. This was the defiant whisker, the one that refused to conform, the one strong enough to be unique.
It was in that one dark sliver of firm hair where you could find the true essence of Harmony; secure and confident, but needy enough for want of company. Independent at heart, but never venturing too far from home. Willing to stand out, but fiercely loyal to those around her.
Holding Harmony tight, I was lost in a sea of memories and emotions. In response, I covered her with tears and kisses. I wept with gratitude for the life we shared and cried knowing grief had already begun its walk towards me.
As we waited to see the doctor, I watched as combinations of guardians and companions came and went.
At one point a young woman walked in with a small, beautiful black and white Boston Terrier puppy cradled in her arms. The baby was tiny, wiggly and “puppyish” in every way.
The young woman checked in and then turned around to find a seat in the waiting area. She looked towards the chairs, but none were available. She then turned to her right and glanced in our direction and the open spot on the bench next to where Harmony and I rested.
She walked over with a puppy in her arms, while I held a senior in mine.
Though asleep, Harmony quickly picked up the scent of the little one and woke up. When she did, I introduced us to the young woman and the new life she cradled.
I talked on and on about my girl, and towards the end shared that Harmony was in her 16th year of life. In return, the young woman shared all about her puppy, Destiny. And, when finished, she added that Destiny just so happened to be in her 16th week of life.
16 weeks and 16 years.
The young and the old.
The beginning and the end.
What are the chances of such an encounter?
In my 20 years of animal care and rescue, I have been to the vet hundreds of times. In all those visits, to a variety of different doctors at different locations, I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen another Boston Terrier.
And, as strange as it may seem, I have NEVER seen a Boston Terrier puppy while waiting at a vet’s office.
Not even once.
A short while later our name was called. I held Harmony tight as I stood up and then leaned over so the two girls could say goodbye.
Harmony and Destiny were mere inches apart, the lively puppy in her 16th-week nose to nose with my beautiful girl in her 16th year.
The encounter was a gift, an unexpected reminder of the full and wonderful life Harmony and I enjoyed together. There, in the waiting room, our history played out, and what a joy it was to witness.
A week later, my prayer was answered, and the love of my life slipped away at home, surrounded by family as I held her close in my arms.
While two years later grief still finds me, often making camp and taking up what appears to be permanent residency, I know in my heart my sweetheart is fine.
Harmony, like Destiny, now has a fresh, new and healthy body, and she is waiting patiently for me, and our next adventure to begin.
I love you Harmony.
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