A year ago at this time, Ufi had been injected with the sedative that was preparing him to be relaxed when the lethal injection forced him to take his last breath.
Now, I still can’t believe he’s gone. I still can’t believe all he’s still doing for me. Most of all, I know Ufi would be glad that thanks to a miracle that didn’t seem possible one year ago today, I’m truly looking forward to a great future.
It won’t be the future I would have had with Ufi by my side. But it will be an even better, brighter future because of all I learned from Ufi.
Now, for the letter to Ufi.
Today is full of mixed emotions for me. On one hand, I have been thinking of you a lot and wishing I could have you back. On the other hand, I have thought a lot about a possible life I have always wanted but that so often seemed elusive.
You were with me for the nights when I made us both freeze in our apartment because I couldn’t afford heat to keep us warm. You listened as I apologized to you for making you cold. You wagged your tail and nuzzled me as I hoped you knew I didn’t mean for you to be cold and my heart wanted to break at the thought that I was hurting you.
You were by my side when I was incredibly depressed by my inability to find work and the sometimes devastating feelings of failure it encouraged me to feel.
You made me go to the park or the sprint pen and play. You got me to take walks I never would have taken. You made me smile and laugh when almost no one could.
You were by my side when I felt so alone and misunderstood that I sometimes wondered what kind of relief I would feel if I quit.
I will never forget scratching your tummy and asking you how you do it. I was jealous of your love of life and energy.
You were by my side when someone wanted to rob me or worse. Thanks to you, they knew it was them who would pay.
You were by my side when I made the hardest decision I have ever made–the decision to end your life.
Even on your last day, you lived your life to the best of your ability. Barely able to walk, you forced yourself into your pool twice. You wanted to get in your pool. With a body that literally changed shape from disease, you moved after your ring. With the determination and love of life you brought to absolutely everything, you fought the sedative that began the process of ending your life.
On your final day, my heart and head knew I did the right thing. As you fought the sedative, I briefly questioned my judgment. In bed that night with tears streaming down my face, I clutched my heart and hoped with everything I had that you knew I did it because I love you so much.
A year later, I know I did the right thing. I can’t write about it without crying, but I did the right thing. You died as Ufi. You weren’t a shell of the wonderful dog who made all of us lucky enough to love him better. You died leaving us with a couple of extra special memories, not the pain of watching you truly suffer.
Although thoughts of your loss will always sometimes make me cry, I spend so much time enjoying the great memories and appreciating all of the lessons.
A day after what would have been your 10th birthday, I will board a plane. It seems strange doing something so exciting and momentous without you. I have an idea that at some point all of your skills, not just the ones you were trained to have, may have been put to good use. But you aren’t here. This will be the biggest step I have taken since you passed.
While I would have loved to have shared this adventure with you and while there is someone I wish you got to meet, I know you would be glad that on the anniversary of your death I’m looking forward. I know you would appreciate the constant joy and excitement I now feel.
Sitting here, I know in my heart you would be as excited for me as I am for myself. You wouldn’t want me feeling sad and unable to enjoy what I have and dream about what I could have. Sure, I never imagined feeling the way I do today. Mixed emotions was not what I would have thought possible. But I’m as certain as I have ever been that you would want the best for me as I wanted for you.
The day after you passed, I decided to commit myself to exercise. Today, I have met my exercise goals for 365 consecutive days. When I started, I had no idea I would be going a year later. There were days when exercising was the last thing I wanted to do. There were days when my knees hurt and I reminded myself of you playing with a tumor in your leg. There were days when the only reason I exercised was because I couldn’t stand the thought of not being able to tell you I exercised.
U-dawg, you have been gone a year. The imprint you left on me will last a lifetime. From the bottom of my heart, I miss you, I appreciate you, and most of all I love you.