Nicky was the answer to years of constant begging. I had begged my parents for a dog for so long and there he was: a tiny little hairball the size of my palm. At eleven I didn’t really know what I had asked for. I didn’t know all the work a dog entails: the poop I would have to clean, the baths I would have to give, the nagging I would have to listen to from my mom to come look at what “that dog” had done. I also had no idea how that tiny little thing in the palm of my hand would get so deep inside my heart that his death would turn out to be one of the toughest moments of my life twelve years later.
Nicky passed away this past Thursday night. I spent the previous days trying to nurse him back to health but his condition had gotten too severe and he was far too weak to fight it by then. Watching him struggle to do even the most basic things like walk and breathe broke me apart. He was so little. So fragile. And there was nothing more I could do. I wrestled with the thought of euthanizing him, but more than that I wrestled with the guilt of not having been everything he needed and deserved from the beginning. Nicky came into my life at a time when I was careless and self-indulgent. I loved him to pieces, but it wasn’t a fair love. He needed more from me and though I knew it, I didn’t always give it. I found out about his condition much too late. As fate would have it I would be off work and my parents out of town on what turned out to be his last week of life, so he ended up being under my care completely. I still can’t decide if it was a curse or a gift. I think it was both. Seeing him suffering felt like the worse kind of punishment, but I am glad I got to be by his side when he needed me most. I am glad I could step up at the end and show him I really did love him.
Though I hate missing him, I love remembering his mischiefs and adventures like the time he was chased by a cat, and the time I looked for him all over the neighborhood after dress rehearsal for the school play–in costume–on the day he got lost, his stinky breathe and funny haircuts, the food scraps he would hide all over the house, and his absolute love for golf balls. He was the funniest little hairball ever. He could melt hearts like no other. He melted mine from beginning to end. There will never be another Nicky.
Tomorrow I will resume the blog as usual. Last week I needed to be with him, mourn him, say goodbye to him.