On My Mandy Mae, whom I loved best

I Loved You Best
Jim Willis

The ever-faithful Mandy, who is entirely devoted to us.

The ever-faithful Mandy, who was entirely devoted to us.

 

 So this is where we part, My Friend, 
   and you’ll run on, around the bend,
   gone from sight, but not from mind, 
   new pleasures there you’ll surely find.

   I will go on, I’ll find the strength, 
   life measures quality, not its length.
   One long embrace before you leave, 
   share one last look, before I grieve.

   There are others, that much is true,
   but they be they, and they aren’t you. 
   And I, fair, impartial, or so I thought, 
   will remember well all you’ve taught.

   Your place I’ll hold, you will be missed,
   the fur I stroked, the nose I kissed. 
   And as you journey to your final rest, 
   take with you this…I loved you best.

I hate to publish another dog obituary on my blog so soon after last year’s loss of Kearney, but it’s been a long time coming. We lost our Mandy at the end of February, a mere three days before she would have been with me five years. I have struggled and fought, unsure what to write and how to share this experience with you all, but then I know that you, my friends, would want to share in my grieving again and join me in celebrating the life of my very best friend.

You wouldn’t, I fear, want to know the depth of my pain when I held her in my arms, laid as she was across my lap, on the cold floor of the vet’s office, and I understood for the first time what is meant when people say they felt the life drain out of someone. The mere retrospective thought of this still leaves knots in my belly, and makes it hard for me to breathe. Her life was my life. She saved my life. We shared this life. And now it was gone from her. Now I must go on without her.

I am afraid to tell you how, night after night, I dream of her, and I awake in the morning without her, saddened all over again. I am afraid to mention how this freight train of emotion and longing hit me with the same force of the death of some human family members, and, indeed, more force than others. But I have promised you that I would be open and honest, and this is my truth. You see, my Mandy, I have said, was not a dog.

Mandy was more like my partner. From the day I moved into my first real home as a single mother, away from my friends “back home” in the bayous, Mandy was by my side. I pulled her, broken, bleeding and sick, out of her old home and brought her with me to heal. Our vet says that we helped each other to heal. We had both been neglected and mistreated, but now, we had each other. She was the one reason I held onto that home as long as I did after it became untenable, and one of the biggest reasons I moved into the home I still live in.

She slept in my bed every night. She pined away for my son when he was at his father’s. She loved my parents and my friends. She let me cry into her silky soft neck when I was sad. She laid that same neck over my eyes when I got migraines. She wiggled when I laughed. She pouted when I was frustrated. She was ALWAYS THERE. She was our constant. She was our stability. She was our best friend. She was my partner. Without her, I think our hard times would have been much harder, and without her, I am not sure our good times would have been as good.

I woke up one morning in February to get ready to take our puppy, Christopher Marlowe, to get neutered, but instead, I found my Mandy in great distress. Her kidneys had officially failed her, and there was blood everywhere. She was confused and in pain. It was time. I made the appointment, and the next morning, my beloved died as she lived best: snuggled in my arms, my face in the silky smoothness of her neck.

I love you, sweet, sweet girl. We will never, ever forget you. We loved you best.

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