Our pets become such a big part of our lives. They may not have the same emotional gravity as people, but they also don’t have as much emotional complexity. Sometimes they can seem like a daily chore, but they radiate so much unfeigned welcome and warmth and friendship and mirth, and are so profoundly grateful for whatever ounce of attention they get from us.

We become like Adam and Eve; tending the garden, naming the animals. Or like Noah, sheltering them from the storms and craziness of this world. And they are so utterly grateful.

So when they’re gone the space they occupied is missing something…someone. That cool nose in the small of the back. The purring drooling cat in your lap. The noise of their nails scrabbling along the wood floor to greet you at the door. The tail thumping on the carpet (or coverlet). The muffled barks in their sleep.

Or, the cries of confusion, and whimpering of distress. As difficult as their last days can be you are their guardian. Their advocate. Their friend. Their family. You are the center of their world and you are so utterly grateful for the chance to have become this for them. Then you are faced with the “decision.” (Does being a guardian, an advocate, or a friend include euthanasia?)

And then the space they occupied in your life is cool to the touch, and silent. Absent except for the memories and mementos of their lives with us, and within us.

For Milo, Catty, Sunny, Wolf, and Black Cat.

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