Today was the first day I had ever seen my dad cry.
I mean yeah, sometimes you’ll yawn and get teary eyed and cry, and I’ve seen that. Sometimes we are watching a sad movie or show and a small tear escapes his eye. But I mean, really cry.
He really cried.
We went outside with him, and he roamed around. He went to the bathroom, and gave the chickens kisses. I got to see his sweet, old face lift up towards the sky, he closes his eyes and sniffs the air. He looked so warm and happy. I gave him constant hugs and I kept tearing up.
My mom held up her phone, “Ava, smile.” It was hard to smile, but I tried my best.
All I could think about was how my life would never be the same without him. Though sometimes he could be a pain in the butt, I loved him. His eye-sight and hearing were almost gone. He would bark and bark, all day long, he couldn’t hear himself, he would just get louder and louder, but I loved him. So much. Even if I didn’t always show it.
In my mind I remember videos and pictures of him from when I lived in Fairfield. In one my dad was crouching down on the beach with a small, baby Hank sitting between his legs. In another I am in my old backyard, sitting on the ground. I was probably around 3 years old, because I still had my blonde hair, the color of vanilla buttercream.
My mom once told me how in the wild when a dog or a wolf knows that they are soon to die, they walk away from the pack and look for a spot they found comforting, then lay down. They didn’t want their pack, or their family, to see them die, they didn’t want their family to see them weak. So they would leave before their family could see. They would lay down until they then had passed.
Hank would constantly walk in circles around our living room and house. He knew it was soon his time to leave us. I don’t think he wanted us to watch. I know I chose to be home and watch, but I secretly wished that I wasn’t there. Though, I knew I should be there for him.
Once Hank came inside we gave him a few treats and more hugs.
We had talked many times about what we wanted to do, “Guys, would you like to keep his ashes?” My mom would ask.
“No. I love him,” I would answer, “But a reminder on the mantle, of what happened, just seems too hard.”
My brother, Austin, just kept it simple, “No, that’s okay.” Austin had the choice of coming to watch, be there for Hank.
“I’d rather be at school, I don’t want to watch,” That’s what he had said.
Though it would be good if he stayed, my mom had agreed, “He’s young, he shouldn’t have to watch if he doesn’t want to.”
The vets arrived. They had a box full of supplies the contents rattle as they placed it on the carpet of our living room. One of the vets kept on looking up at us. Nothing has happened yet but we already started to tear up.
“I’m sorry,” she would say, over and over. She was very kind.
We laid a soft blanket on the ground for Hank as they set everything up. We could have chosen to bring Hank to the vet and do this there, but we thought this was better. He never really liked the vet’s office. At the vet Hank would shake. He wasn’t a fan. So when we knew we had a choice to do it at home, where he was comfortable, we took it.
We coaxed Hank over to the blanket on our living room floor. “Hank, come here,” my mom lured him over with a sweet, soft voice. “Hank.”
We pushed our automan to the side. Our living room had 2 espresso brown couches. One smaller than the other. There was a small money tree in the corner and with our TV on a stand next to the window. We had a large cream colored carpet with colorful, floral designs. On the mantle we had multiple pictures of him. Hank finally came over to the blanket. He stood up against my mom, shaking.
Once everyone was settled, they took out the syringe. They slowly inserted it into him, I turned away. I couldn’t watch. My mom held him in place. He shook as if there was a lightning storm, he was terrified of those. The syringe had a liquid in it that should slowly calm him down and eventually have him fall asleep. Not gone asleep, just as if he was taking a nap.
Hank stood there for a little, licking my mom’s face. I know the syringe wouldn’t hurt him, but I couldn’t stand it. I walked out of the room. I tried not to cry, tears dripped down my face, although he wasn’t even gone yet. For a few months, I knew this was gonna happen. We’ve been talking about it for a while but only up till now did I really believe it was gonna happen. It’s really happening. I paced through the hallway until I felt I could go back in.
I went back to the living room, he is still awake, but barely. He starts to collapse in my mom’s arms. It’s ironic, he’s a 14 year old dog but in this moment he seems as fragile as a newborn. My mom cries, tears stream down her face but Hank licks them away, as if assuring her that everything will be fine (It doesn’t feel like it will). Hank has been here for me my whole life, since before I was born. My parents rescued him from Hurricane Katrina. He was young and so we didn’t know his birthday, we celebrated it on June 1st (though I’m not sure why). He is an old Yellow lab mix (looking more like a mix than a lab).
Hank is finally laying on the ground, he licks at the air in front of him, looking for my mom’s face. I walk over to her and kneel on the ground beside her. I squeeze her tightly, I bury my face into her neck and silently cry. Tears drop on my hands and she holds onto me as if she lets go she’ll lose me too. After a while I will get up and stand beside my dad, facing away from everything that’s happening, hoping that when I look back it will all be over. Though I know it isn’t, not yet. I look over to my Dad. I hugged him. I hold on for just a few seconds. Then I let go. I look up at him, he tries to hold his tears back. I’ve never had to see him fight so hard before.
I walk back over to the living room and look down at Hank. He’s so still, like a stump from a large tree, so peaceful. I couldn’t keep it in anymore, tears just started pouring down my face, I couldn’t breathe. Its as if my head has been dunked underwater, I try to fight back, but it’s too hard. I give up and just let it all out. I grab a box of tissues and carry it into the living room and put it between me and my mom, we both needed them.
Throughout the whole time, all the vets have said are constant sorrys. They know how hard this is. It’s hard to wonder how they’re not crying, they’ve definitely done this before. It obvious they know how hard it is.
They’re both women, they seem very kind, and both are very gentle with him. I’ve never met them before but I trust them completely. Next thing I know, they say the words I have been dreading…
He was so weak, he was ready to just let his mind float away. Hank knew it was time… we knew it was time. He was in such a deep sleep that his body just let go, gave in. He didn’t even need the shot to stop his heart. It was time. I really wish it wasn’t but he was already gone. I hated seeing him like that. So limp, so weak. I covered my mouth making muffled sounds, sobbing.
We say our goodbyes as they wrap him in a blanket and pick him up. We take one last look as they carry him to the car. They place him down gently. They get in and drive away. My mom shuts the door and I walk to the living room. I sit down, on the couch and just cry, holding multiple tear soaked tissues in my hand. My dad walks over and sits to the left of me. My mom joins us to my right. We all sit, silent as a mouse and just let our minds drift off. It’s so silent. I stare at the picture of him on the mantle. All I can think about is him. He’s really gone.