I took Furio to the vet Tuesday to discuss removing his tumor that has grown really large. It seemed in slow motion as she said, "I don't think this is a Lipoma." Flashback to years before, sitting in the very same office with Sam and my sweet Rocco and hearing the C word. That day changed my life forever. I couldn't hear that word again. Not this time, please. I've had Furio since he was born. Although I didn't know he was mine immediately, his small puppy body possessed a personality so large that he filled my heart with joy each time I held him in my hands. I think it only took a couple of days to realize that I couldn't let him go. I was 19 the day that he was born and I would be 20 the following day. His birthday is only one day before mine. I will never forget when he was a few days old and he was meandering around the kitchen and somehow got stuck in the space between the cabinet and the oven. His little tail was sticking out and he was just talking/growling away. When I grabbed his wiggly butt out of that little space - he was mine forever. I found homes for the other puppies but this special puppy already was home.
It's hard for me to talk about the things I went through with my boy. Some of the moments were filled with so much joy, and yet other moments were filled with so much darkness that he was truly my only light. I can still remember the day that I laughed harder than I ever have in my life. We were hiking in DuPont State Forest and he brushed up under a tree limb, and being totally blind, he obviously thought he was being attacked by SOMETHING and he ran like a "bat out of hell" (truly!) off further onto the trail. We were out hiking that day as part of Rocco's bucket list after he was diagnosed with Cancer. It was one of the most sad times of my life and yet Furio brought so much laughter to our lives. I will always remember that day as Sam and I were bent over laughing so hard that we couldn't breathe. He was a best friend to everyone. When I woke up one morning, knowing in my heart that Rocco had passed in the night, I wasn't surprised to walk down into the basement to see that Furio was still lying down next to his best friend -- Rocco. I will never forget that moment of heartbreak as I discovered my lifeless sweet boy and yet the love that still remained as Furio never left his side.
He never left anyone's side. On Dec 14, 2012, Sam died after a lengthy battle with mental illness. His death ended his battle and also OURS. We had broken up 6 months before and were fighting nonstop over our best friend - Furio. I will never forget Sam telling me that he was going to take Furio to live in the woods if he had to. I never knew how sad I would be to have finally "won" Furio. I never knew that it could happen this way. As I pulled up in our old driveway a couple of days after Sam died, my sweet Furio was waiting at the door for me. I can't imagine what he went through during Sam's last days but I know that whatever it was - he never left his side. As I pulled the last of our things out of the house, I remembered all of the years before of laughter and joy and family. The following weeks of my life were a long blur of absolute Hell. New Years Eve of that year, I was alone in my new house... But I wasn't totally alone. I had Furio. When the clock struck midnight, I hugged my sweet boy and I prayed that I would survive a pain that I thought could kill me.
In many ways, Furio was the only reason that I kept going. Sam's death was, and probably always will be, the worst thing to ever happen to me. It doesn't matter what happens when we endure a breakup -- all of the mean words that are spoken, the hurtful actions we take against those we loved so dearly... When I found out that my best friend and boyfriend of almost 10 years had left this world - I wanted to go with him. For ten years, I had woken every morning next to someone who no longer breathed on this earth. It's hard to explain that feeling to someone who hasn't gone through it. It hurts in more ways than I can describe here. There were endless nights that I thought I could never be better. I thought I could never stop crying. I thought I could never forgive myself and I could never forgive him. But every morning, I woke up, and Furio was there. Even when I didn't want to keep going on, I had to do it for him.
I will never be ready to say goodbye to my boy. Life doesn't work that way. I have said goodbye to two dogs (as an adult) and each one was truly a family member. Furio is different though. In some ways, Furio is my only connection to a life that used to be. When I look at him, I can remember the days spent doubled over in laughter and not the days spent trying to find my way through the pain. When I look at him, I can remember the day that Sam and I decided to keep him. I can remember the smile on his face every time he saw his boy.
I know that one day, he will be smiling as he sees his sweet boy again. But I'm not ready for that day yet. Furio is still mine right now. And I will be by his side until the very end, just as he has done for all of his best friends.