Love, Death, and How the Loss of My Best Friend Made Me Stronger
I still remember hearing the panic in my step-fathers voice as he yelled for help.
15 years old; my mom and I run out of our rooms to see the limp and motionless body of my 2 year old tea-cup yorkie, Max, in my step-fathers hands.
I’m not ashamed to admit that Max was my best friend. We adopted him the year I became very sick; Mostly when I found myself at home more than I was at school. I lost so many friends due to my health, but Max was always there. He always made me feel like I had someone even when I felt most alone. Standing there, I stare at my step-father and my motionless best-friend; no expression, no reaction.
In a panic state, my step-father tells us that Max was jumping on the couch with his toy, as he’s done hundreds times before, only this time he fell and hit his head. My mother, frantic yet trying her best to stay composed, checks Max’s pulse and see’s that he’s still alive. Motionless and unresponsive, but still alive.
My parents rush to get their keys and shoes as it feels like time is running out. They quickly run out the door and I silently follow. As I see our car and begin to climb into the back seat, I realize I still have yet to say a word.
My best friend, Max, now lies in my mother’s hands, still motionless and unresponsive. My mother continues to pet him, tell him he’ll be ok, and do everything she can to believe it’ll be ok too. But I can hear it in her voice. I can hear that it’s not ok at all.
We crookedly park in the closest spot to the veterinary emergency room. My mother frantically hands off my motionless Max to the vet tech, they exchange words, and we are told they’ll do the best that they can.
My parents and I sit down in the room that rarely ever sees joy. I stare at the ground; uncomfortable with the situation, uncomfortable that my parents are emotional, and in shock of what the f*ck is even happening.
I honestly can’t tell you how much time passes. It feels like hours because I don’t want to think about anything at all.
The veterinarian comes into the waiting room and gives us the facts. Maximus has internal bleeding. He is brain dead and will never function again.
My step-father and mother both break down. This is the first time I’ve ever seen my step-father cry. As a 15 year old, I truly didn’t believe that I’d ever see him cry. He’s the strongest man I know, but little did I know what being strong truly meant.
All 3 of us hug....I don’t want to be touched but I feel slightly comforted.
The drive home is silent. The walk into our apartment; even more so. There’s no dog to greet us at the door. My best-friend is no longer there to comfort me by my side. Empty...that’s how I feel without him in my life.
My eyes get watery, but I still don’t cry. I still don’t feel anything. The only feeling that begins to overcome me is guilt. Maximus felt like one of the only things I had in this world, and now that he’s gone, I feel like I have nothing at all.
Max was the silliest and happiest dog you’d ever meet. I named him Maximus, (Max for short), because of how mighty and strong he’d always try to be.
Even the slightest sound would cause him to come barking and sprinting to the door with all 4 pounds of might. I was home-schooled in my teens so you have no idea how much that would annoy me as a 15 year old...but god what I would do to hear that annoying little bark now.
When Maximus passed away at the way too early age of 2 years old, I didn’t know what being strong meant. I was in shock, denial, and honestly I felt like I had to “suck it up” to get through my loss.
It took many years for me to realize this. Being strong does not mean denying yourself the opportunity to cry. Being strong means allowing yourself to cry and allowing yourself to feel every possible feeling in life to show yourself that you can get through it.
I can tell you now that I’ve cried hard when writing about this. I’ve cried hard when allowing myself open up about it to a close friend.
It hurt. It hurt so bad to have his life stolen from me. But it hurt even more to suppress my love for him and not allow myself to cherish the many memories we had.
Since crying about losing him (many times), I’ve grown to see that I’m a much more loving person and a much more open person to anything in life going forward.
With love comes loss. With loss comes strength. And with strength comes growth for you to become the best possible person you can be. Don’t ever deny yourself the opportunity to become just that. ❤️
In memoriam, Maximus.