An usual take on the loss of a special friend.
THE LOSS OF MY BEST FRIEND
I lost one of my best friends tonight. We had set a time to meet, but a phone call delayed me. I was late and he had quietly died in his sleep by the time I joined him. I had known his days were numbered, yet the reality that he was gone was hard to grasp as I sat by his side, holding his head in my arms.
For weeks, myself and another friend he loved nearly as well as he loved me, had begged, bribed and cajoled him into hanging on a bit longer--for our sakes rather than his. He tried his best to accommodate us, but life was short on miracles that evening. He was slipping away.
He was, after all, on in years and in poor health, but still as handsome, stately, and full of a zest for life as he was when we first met. He had struggled in his last days, fighting the good fight right to the end. As a friend he was easy in that he enjoyed the simple things in
life; a good meal, leftovers always welcome, a leisurely walk and a ball game now and then. These were a few of his passions. While he was the sort to be kind to animals and small children, he preferred adult company. His high level of intelligence made for many days and nights of heated debates, few of which I ever won.
We met when we were both much younger, and I was in need of a friend, but even then he was adamant in his views and prone to wacky rituals and bizarre phobias. His wants and needs were never flexible, yet I found him to be so understanding of my needs that I mostly let him have his way. It did not hurt that he was breathtakingly handsome, well-muscled in his youth, and like Sean Connery, growing better with age. Large brown long-lashed eyes and strong cheekbones helped me overlook his flaws. Even my husband was a tad jealous of the effect he had on women.
Yet, his faults could not be understated. He was a slob, no nicer way to put it. His table manners needed work, and as well as having to have the last word on any subject, and wherever we traveled, I was always picking up after him.
Still, as I wax philosophical in the wee small hours of the morning, tears streaming down my face, sobs heaving my chest, I remember that it was he who was always ready to listen to my sad sagas, often giving advice I cared not to hear. He knew the meaning of unconditional love and reminded me when I forgot, by being ever by my side, always full of loving concern.
Our relationship lasted almost thirteen years, bonded together by a friendship that even death could not separate. As he grew older, he retained the vigor of his youth, not graying or showing the more common signs of aging. While I was prone to complain of aches and pains, he was always full of boundless energy, always ready for a good time.
Life, however, is known to throw a hardball now and then. It is not fair. It just is. My dearest friend contracted an "MS" type of muscle-wasting disease which steadily, in spite of his resistance, took him down. It was a progressive disease, but my galliant friend ignored the prognosis and fought to live his life to the fullest. And did. His quality of life did not diminish because he found strength in those he loved and those who loved him.
As the disease progressed, his breathing labored, his body thinned and weakened, but his indomitable spirit, his great heart, kept him going long after his time. Those of us who cared so much for him, cooked his favorite meals, massaged his aching muscles and sat by him, communing with him night and day. As valiant as he was, he, too, knew his life was coming to an end, yet he struggled to remain with us, knowing we would be devastated by his loss.
He died this night, alone . . . as if not to trouble or bring undue pain upon those who treasured him, a final act of selflessness.
Remington never really believed he was a dog, and neither did I despite the "Labrador Retriever" that appears on his pedigree. Subdued in death, but never in life, he went, this night to meet his creator. Even as Heaven welcomes him home, and I know he now romps through eternity as a renewed, healthy being, most likely ordering the angels about, a part of him remains within my soul.
My heart weeps. He was my angel boy, a faithful companion, my best friend.