Saying Goodbye to a Best Friend

by Cate on August 1, 2011

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was to tell Nick he had to say goodbye to Eli last night.  It just might be THE hardest thing I have ever done.  We got Eli when Nick was about six months old.  They literally grew up together.  Luckily Nick was with The Ex for part of the weekend, so was spared having to watch Eli go downhill quickly.  When we came home last night, I wanted to prepare him.  We talked.  He cried.  I consoled.

This morning, as the kids got ready for camp, Nick walked into the kitchen to say his goodbyes.  I watched him as he knelt down on the floor next to Eli, rubbing his face in Eli’s fur.  Talking to him.  Stroking his paw.  Rubbing his ear.  Ok, so apparently I’m not completely cried out.  The errant tear on the keyboard is probably a giveaway.  I have had a million and one moments of pride in Nick, but never more so than this morning.  He was so very brave.  Incredibly stoic.  He didn’t shed a tear while he said his goodbyes.  I could not have been more proud of them than in those moments.

I walked him down to my friend Denise’s car, who was taking him off to camp.  She knew what was going on.  In fact, she was dropping the kids off at camp and coming back to help me.  On the way to camp, Nick and her son Sean talked about Eli.  From what I hear, there was a lot of that going on at camp during the day.  He shared stories with the counselors and shed tears amongst his best friends.  Two of his friends, Sean and Payton, have known Eli for years and years, and I know they were feeling the pain too.  I’m glad that they could be there for Nick.

I will spare you all the play-by-plays of the day, but I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Denise.  I likely owe her my next born.  If not more.  Not only did she help me get can’t-walk-at-all-and-weighs-over-100-pounds Eli down to my truck, she stayed with me until the very last moment at the vet.  An appointment I have never gone for before.  The Ex was always that one that went to the vet for “those” appointments.  But this time was different.  I felt I owed it to Nick.  To Eli.  To do right by both of them.

When I picked the boys up from camp, Nick asked about Eli.  I told him some of the moments I knew he would smile about.  Nick and Sean shared stories about Eli on the way home.

Around 5:30, Beth texts me, asks if we’re home, and tells me to stay put.  A few minutes later, I open the door to find her with two full bags of food for us.  For dinner.  She left work in NYC early to go pick us up dinner and drive it out to us.  She also picked up a birthday cake for Nick.  (The big day is tomorrow)

I could not be more grateful.  I knew the quiet house tonight was going to be hard for all of us, and wow, what an awesome surprise to see Beth standing there with dinner.

A strong support network is something huge.  We have the best one ever.  And as each day passes, we find out how truly lucky we are.  As friends and family started finding out what was going on, my phone kept vibrating with text messages and e-mails.  Offers of help and virtual hugs.  Every last word was absolutely appreciated and as I told Nick, we are very, very lucky.  And in this instance, look how many people loved Eli!

Then there’s Madeline.  She, of course, at 3-1/2 doesn’t quite grasp the concept that Eli isn’t coming back.  When I said goodbye to Nick as he went to camp this morning and started buckling her into her car seat, she asked why I was crying.

“Because Eli is very sick and I’m a little sad about it.”

Mommy, stop crying in the driveway!

When we went to pick the boys up from camp this afternoon, she was chattering NON-STOP, trying to make conversation with them.  Nick asked her to please stop.  He really just wanted a bit of peace to be upset.  To gather his thoughts.  He asked nicely.  He asked not so nicely.

“But I’m just trying to make you happy, NICK-O-LESS!”

Although she is a handful and a half, Madeline has the type of personality that is a welcome respite from dealing with something like this.

Nick is handling it as best as he can.  Having fits of normalcy and bouts of tears.

Mystic stopped by after work, as did his daughter a little bit later.

Nick has a lot of people who love him to pieces and who are there offering a shoulder to cry on.

This too shall pass.  In the meantime, I’m working on trying to distract him.  To keep him busy.  Tonight we worked on making new artwork for the master bath.  And I kid you not, it kept him busy for about an hour, and Madeline nearly two.  Had I known it was that easy (and cheap!), I would have had art night every night!  Well, almost.  Twenty-nine cent bottles of acrylic paint and 50% off canvases are totally the way to go.

I will leave you with a bit of perky happiness before I sign off to snuggle with my littles.

At Madeline’s summer camp today, they were doing something with cheerleader pom-poms.  Madeline was apparently bugging her teacher about taking the pom-poms home.  The teacher promised her she would give her a pair if she didn’t tell any of the other kids because there wasn’t enough for everyone.  Madeline nodded emphatically and quickly stuffed the pom-poms underneath her shirt to sneak out of the building.  When we went to go pick up the boys from camp later, she insisted on bringing her pom-poms with her so she could do a cheer to make Nick laugh.  She’s that kind of girl.  Always the life of the party but consistently putting others first.  We are very lucky to have her.

Too Cute

Spreading the Love

Cheerleader in Training

TGIF

Joy

Clown

I appreciate you hanging with us for a heavier than usual post.  It was either this or no update.  But in the realm of real life, there’s sometimes a bit more going on than cupcakes and the hunt for the best pizza ever.  Tomorrow I promise happiness! Ya hear that The Neighbor Husband?

Tonight is my last night as the mom of an eight-year-old. We counted it up tonight and Nick is managing to squeeze in birthday celebrations over five days, between today and this coming Sunday. What can I say? He learned from the best.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali August 1, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Aww…I’m so sorry to hear about Eli. I’ve enjoyed seeing his pics for years. I went with my mom when my childhood dog had to be put down. Her name was Muffin, the sweetest black lab ever, and we celebrated every birthday together, from when I was born to my 13th or 14th birthday. She would get a piece of cake and candles, just like me.

It was HARD. But I was glad to be there with her. Our animals really mean a lot to us, and it is lucky to find such good animals, like Eli and Muffin. I hope Nick is feeling better soon. Take care Sweetnicks fam :)

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Paula Ann August 1, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Words can’t express how sorry I am. Family pets that become family members are truly a blessing, but it can make for a very painful goodbye. You have many happy memories, and beautiful photos, of Eli that will hopefully bring you comfort in the days ahead. Know that you have many readers out here in blogland that share your sadness. You’re a wonderful mother, Cate, and you are doing all the right things to help your children deal with their grief. Eli was a lucky dog to have a family as loving as yours.

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mandy August 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

I’m so incredibly sorry about Eli. Making that decision is the very hardest one I’ve ever made as well. I hope you all continue to share so many wonderful stories and memories of your sweet Eli. Take care and know that I’m keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

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patsy August 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm

I’m so very sorry to hear about Eli… I was thinking about all of you earlier today, hoping that you were all doing ok. You have an amazing network of friends and family to support you through everything, everyone should be so lucky.

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Suzi August 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm

First off…Happy Birthday Nick!

Ah Geez! This sure has made me think of my own beloved Jessie..my little schnauzer who still has my heart…10 years after I had to do the best thing for HER….you made that selfless decision and it should give you some comfort that Eli is not suffering anymore.
Hopefully with Nick’s birthday this week it will keep him somewhat busy..poor kid…it’s heartbreaking really.

I am so sorry.

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Angie August 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Loving fully means grieving fully — our dear human animals or our dear non-human animals. They/we all go to “be with the Angels.” I’m so with you & yours as you grieve.

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MariaV August 2, 2011 at 5:10 am

I’m so very sorry about Eli, Cate.

I hope Nick has a wonderful birthday.

Three cheers for Madeline for being such a thoughtful sister.

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Joanne August 2, 2011 at 6:22 am

Ugh, such a hard day, Cate! I found it incredibly hard to read this and I’ve never even met Eli. My parents have a dog that they got after I left for college and though she’s still young yet, I can’t even fathom the day I have to say good-bye to her. It breaks my heart just thinking about it, so I can only imagine how you feel. Nick is so brave and so strong, and I’m sure this will only make him more so! Happy birthday to him!

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The Sister In-Law August 2, 2011 at 6:49 am

We will all miss Eli even I who was as so allergic! He was a lovely doggy. A big hug to Nick, Maddie and You during this rough time.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NICK – LOVE TITI!!!

SIL

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Sarah Caron August 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

I am so sorry about Eli.

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The Neighbor Wife August 2, 2011 at 9:18 am

Eli will be missed. He was an awesome dog. Payton and I were going to stop by last night. But, saw all the cars. We’re here if you need anything.

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Ramona August 2, 2011 at 9:32 am

You should already know I luved him too. I’m sorry, it’s so hard and like losing a child.

Your friend Denise is a wonderful woman. All I can say about that is that I’m jealous. I don’t have anyone like her.

Happy b’day Nick. Take care.

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Tricia August 2, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Very, very sorry for your loss.

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Kelly Savelkoul August 2, 2011 at 2:47 pm

It is so wonderful that your Eli had a place on Earth where he was so loved. And that love continues on, even though he has left that place. Peace and wonderful memories to you all.
Kelly

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Diana August 2, 2011 at 4:14 pm

So sorry about Eli! I also lost my dog earlier this year. I know it’s such a hard thing to deal with especially if they’ve been with you for so long.

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LindainStLouis August 3, 2011 at 8:11 am

So sorry for your loss.

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