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  • Writer's pictureCharles Pennefather

In memory of an Angel

I lost Angel two years ago today. Her kidneys had stopped working, and she held on after nine whole months of emergency surgery, when the doctors gave her only a few days to live. She went through four blood transfusions – something that the doctor hadn’t seen in over two decades of practice. Angel never so much as growled at the doctors. One time, they tried finding a vein nine times (that’s getting poked nine times with a needle in a row) and she didn’t misbehave at all.

Everyone should have met Angel. She would have made an excellent therapy dog, because there isn’t a single person who met her that didn’t like her. She converted a bunch of people who were afraid of dogs into people who would run toward canines. Today, I count myself lucky to have met Marmalade, who is like Angel in many ways, the most important one being that she is her own person. I got taught that lesson the hard way, and was upset with her for a while, but in the end I realised that she taught me about love. Love isn’t selfish, and love is forgiving. Love accepts the other person with all his or her flaws… or despite them.

Angel has been gone for two whole years, and sometimes I feel guilty that I barely notice her photo that has hung on the wall for a year and a half. Sometimes her memory is so strong, I have to sit and let the tears flow, else I am not able to function for the rest of the day. Every long-haired dog I pet makes me close my eyes, because if I do that, it feels like I’ve got my dog back momentarily, as illogical as that may seem. Every time Marmalade gives me a kiss, I am reminded of the industrious facewashes Angel used to give me.

There have been so many times that I’ve missed Angel so much that it was a physical ache in my chest. If you’ve lost someone close to you, you know what I’m talking about. At the worst of those times, somehow, a dog has materialised out of nowhere and comforted me. It will be the strangest of circumstances: a stray dog that approaches with no signals on my part, or me finally going to someone’s house that is full of dogs after being invited there for many years. I have never been without a dog’s love when I have needed it the most, and that is when I know Angel is still watching over me and comforting me like she used to.

The realisation that you aren’t going to see someone you love again is one of the hardest things to accept. No, it doesn’t get any easier… but we grow stronger and wiser, so we deal with it better. Life goes on, with each loss making us kinder, gentler, more empathetic individuals. Even through grief, love gives us gifts.

The photo you see of Angel was taken on 4 June 2018, the day I made the decision to put her down. She passed away at home, surrounded by the people she loved - and chicken lollipops, which she might just have loved more than people. I am eternally grateful to the people who helped me through that time.

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