I waited to write this thinking it would be easier a month later, and sometimes it is, and sometimes it's not. I guess that those who have lost a loved one feel like that. I've been blessed to not yet had to experience losing someone that I've been around everyday for years on end. Until her.
And there are some that will read this and think, "Really? Um it's a dog, you know that right?" And those are the same people that probably have multiple pets they leave outside all day and night tied up and don't think twice about them.
But that wasn't Fisher.
Part of the hard in this was she was there from the start. My first birthday gift after we were married, which means she was the 2nd birthday gift Cory ever bought me. I can tell you I can't really remember any of the others.
She was there for the move, she came into our home just before we were given the opportunity to come to Birmimgham and just 4 months later, was with us as we drove south and started a new life here in Alabama. She was the last string of what came with us on that journey.
She was there for the hard times, faithfully bringing me her blue racquet balls at the house in Chelsea on days I didn't want to think, keeping me grounded with where I was and helping me find my way to the comeback that followed.
She was there for the excitement of the change in direction of our lives while we prayed and hoped for a family of our own. And there for the blessing of bringing Jack home and the gift of Duke so soon after.
She moved with us to a dream place, with a lake to swim in and lots of space to run; forest and fields and spent those first years here doing just that.
But in the last year, there was less running, less swimming and more sleeping. And so when the time came to make the decision that I'd known needed to be made, but didn't want to make, this is why it took so long to get there.
This is why when Cory would raise the question or give an example of why it was time to let her go, I would get defensive, angry, argumentative. Why I took a picture of her in front of the fireplace in January and dodged every single instance of his eyes looking at her and then to me for the following 2 months.
This is why when I finally said on that Friday in March when she jumped up at Jack for his hot dog and scared him to pieces, "Ok, I understand what we need to do."
It's why on that Monday when I called and made the appointment for the following Saturday I could barely get the words out of my mouth and wasn't sure I could breathe anymore that day.
It's why on Tuesday I begged Cory to call Dr. Tate and ask her one last time if there was anything we could do, anything we could try to help alleviate some of what we were seeing with her, the pacing around the room ending in a blank stare, the daily accidents, the falling down and slow to get up.
It's why on Thursday Amy texted me support, asking me to consider if she was the same Fisher from just a year before, is she protective of her body or her food, does her mental state seem the same? Reminding me she was the equivalent of 119 years old and asking me to remember that she has always been such a healthy dog, her body wouldn't go with cancer or kidney failure but it would be her mind and that in itself would be more difficult to see than any of the others.
It's why that night, I looked at my sweet Fisher with new eyes. I sat with her in my lap after the boys went to bed and tried to see her, but realized she wasn't there. I saw in the mornings she seemed her, but by nightfall she was gone. I saw that the reason Bailey laid in the living room while Fisher ate in the mud room was because she was afraid of Fisher's protectiveness.
I saw that it was time to let this sweet, warm, faithful gift in our lives go.
And so Saturday morning, at the Highlands Prayer Service I cried until I couldn't see through my tears listening to Matt Redman's "10,000 Reasons". And when Cory met me after at Riverview with her, I could barely stand without shaking. But I did, for her.
We sat with her, stroking her fur, reminding each other of all the good and telling her how much love she'd given us and how it would never leave our hearts.
And when the time had come and she fell against me, my hand landing naturally to her side, I felt that love beat three times and leave her. But it will stay with me forever.
And through tears just as strong as they were a month ago I wish my Sweet Fisher a Happy 18th Birthday. May there be extra blue racquet balls in heaven for you today.