Posted by: Lance Vaughn | September 24, 2007

Angel, 1999-2007

Angel was my best friend. She had a special place in my heart that will forever be reserved for her. We shared so many good times playing and cuddling and she always seemed to want more. More love, more time, more playing, more of me and more of life.

She was so smart. We would always say she seemed almost human. The way she would look at you and listen to you. I didn’t have to use commands with her. Instead of “come” or any other standard command, I would just say “okay.” She always knew what I meant or what I wanted. She didn’t need a leash when we went to the park to play. I would even let her chase a rabbit or deer and she would return to me as soon as I called for her. Her favorite word was “frisbee” and she knew the difference between her “frisbee”, her “ball” and her squeaky “toy.”

She used to make me laugh. We would lay on the floor together and look into one another’s eyes. Often, she would kiss me with just one lick, like a peck on the cheek to say “I love you.” Sometimes Kristin would walk by and say “Quit making out with your dog.” This memory still makes me laugh. These moments became more and more special these last few years as she, instead, would sleep on the floor near my side of the bed. I would often lean over and pet her in the middle of the night or hang my leg over the side just to feel her fur. These last few mornings as I arose after her passing, I would instinctively look for her on the floor before stepping down. What heart-breaking sadness to welcome you in the morning. Where is my best friend?

When she was a puppy, she would play with boundless energy, but in her final few years, her body would tire so quickly. My father got to play frisbee with her a few days before she passed, and she was done after a few quick throws. The doc and I speculated this was simply arthritis kicking in, but it very well may have been an issue with her heart. The doc reviewed her charts and blood work results when I delivered Angel’s body to the vet and could find nothing that could have indicated a serious concern. She labeled it “sudden death” and could only express her condolences for my loss. I will never forget the way her cheek felt against my lips when I bent over to deliver my final kiss. So long, my friend. Could she tell that Kristin was pregnant? Did she know that she’d get less attention in the years to come? Was she in pain? Was she sad? Didn’t she know how much she was loved… how special she was???

She really loved pig ears and was able to enjoy this special treat on her last day. She hadn’t had one in a month or so and she was so excited when we returned from the grocery store with a bag full of them! This will probably be one of my most powerful memories of her, because we went outside that night and sat in the grass together while she ate it. I’m still not sure why I did that, but I am so happy I did. I savored the moment. I told her how pretty she was. I told her I love her. These things I did nearly every day. Surely she knew. This was our final quality moment together, just the two of us. After she was done with her treat, we just sat there in the grass and looked around at the birds and butterflies while I rested my hand on her shoulders.

Later that night, while we watched home movies on the big screen, she played with Ruthie a little and tossed her toy around on the floor in front of us. She walked up to me as she so often did while we watched TV. Usually, I would pick her up and hold her in my arms for a few minutes. That final night, though, I didn’t. Not enough room. Too much going on. Instead, I just held her head in my hands and touched her face, which was continuing to gray more and more everyday. Her face was so expressive! She could make you feel happy or guilty with the glance of an eye. Her ears were so soft and playful. Her little furry head seemed to tell a million stories. They were her voice and they were perfect in every way. I will always wonder what she was thinking that night as she looked at me. Was she trying to tell me she wasn’t feeling well?

She had seemed more and more forlorn her last few months. I had a full set of bloodwork done on her two months ago and her kidney had produced some results of slight concern. We put her on a new diet and the doc gave me some pain killers for her in hopes of helping with her “suspect” arthritic behavior. I can only pray that these pain killers made her passing a little easier. The doc assured me they were the safest available and easy on her kidney. When she passed, she was due for a follow-up exam and I may never forgive myself for not getting her in sooner to run more tests.

Regrets. Of course. These are the hardest. I wasn’t the perfect daddy. So many times she wanted to play but was asked to go lay down. So many times she wanted something. Even my final moments with her — after she had passed — are laden with regrets. I didn’t ask the vet to run blood work on her to discover the cause of death, but now in the WHY-WHY-WHY, I can find no answer. Instead of electing to keep her ashes, I just let her go, to be cremated with who knows how many others. Now I find myself wishing I had kept her remains so that I could spread them along the greenbelt behind our house. Then there would be some sense of her being with me when I stepped into my backyard in all the years to come. The list seems to go on forever and, as though programmed, I just keep repeating the old adage “Take nothing for granted. Take nothing for granted.” Still, no solace.

I am Christian and I will work through this. With prayer, I will eventually come to terms with it all, I know. Perhaps this was simply her time. My uncle Dave sent me a note that really resonated with me. Sometimes we lose something in order to make room for something else. It’s a simple thought, but it runs deep with me today.

She had a full day planned for the day that she passed. She was going to go to her doggy day care where she got to play with other dogs and socialize once a week. She really seemed to enjoy these days and would come home refreshed and eager to be back home where she could relax and hang with her family.

I had also promised her Thursday night that I’d give her a bath the next day. She was so funny — whenever we would hint that she might get a bath, she would put her head in your lap or in your neck and start kissing you all over you as if trying to talk you out of it. “Ah, come on, aren’t I beautiful just the way I am?” I think she secretly loved getting a bath, though. She was always so happy when she was clean and would prance around the house like the beautiful princess she knew she was. And she was. She was so beautiful.

Angel was only eight and half years old. She passed in her sleep at around six or seven in the morning on Friday. She leaves a tremendous hole in the lives and hearts of her loved ones. She was truly an angel in my life and I will forever miss her.

Rest in peace, baby girl. I love you.

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Responses

  1. Angel, was a darling ..She belonged to all of us.She leaves us with many sweet memories.Lance,I remember when you taught her to go to the ladder and get out of the pool..SHE DID IT. What a loving Heart you had and have.My love to you.Kristen I know that you loved her too. God Bless Hugs and kisses.Grandmother

  2. Lance, how eloquently you wrote about your Angel…on Sept. 7th, our Tasha went to cross the Rainbow Bridge. She was almost 11. Our sympathies are with you because we know how much love our furry friends bring us.

  3. Lance, I only met you for a brief time when I was Kristen’s roommate – but I recently had to put down a sister cat – from a brother and sister team (he is still living). She was 16 and had kidney failure and it was one of the hardest things to do – I didn’t want to see her in pain, but it was like she held on just for us – it was tough – but my three daughters decorated her box and all went with us to the vets – then we had a really cool Stevie Ray Vaughn funeral – so she went out really well – I feel for you, it is hard


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