Goodbye, my sweet girl

sweetgirl

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My heart is broken. My sweet 12 1/2 year old dog, Mattie, died last October. Not a day goes by when I haven't sobbed hard for her. I could have never imagined the depth of grief and mourning for her. I miss her so much, my life has never been the same.

She was the sweetest dog I've ever had, a grey and black terrier mutt I adopted from the local humane society when she was a baby. It was love at first sight. I had wanted another dog since my 15 year old shepherd/huskey mutt was euthanized two years before following a year of deteriorated disc problems. It was hard, but I had made the decision to have her put down. I said goodbye, I didn't want her to suffer. She was a family dog, but she was mostly mine, being the big dog lover I've been since I was a kid.

Mattie was different. I adopted her as I was getting ready to go out on my own. She was ALL mine. I looked around for an apartment, but nobody would take a dog. So I figured I would buy a house - for Mattie - my first one. Mattie had the run of the house, but mostly stayed in my first floor bedroom, sleeping on my comforter, waiting for me to come home from work. We were quite a pair. On my vacations, we went up to my mom's cottage, where she chased ducks and geese along the shoreline, waded into the lake trying to catch minnows, and patiently sat next to me on our dock while I went fishing - until she heard the whirr of my fishing pole. She always jumped up on her hind legs, trying to get a few nips in at the fish before I threw it back. Sometimes, she'd get so excited, she'd tumble into the water. I would have to drop everything and pull her out. She was the only dog I ever knew that couldn't swim. She hardly ever needed a leash (only when there was another dog close by), and nearly always did what she was told. I don't ever remember having to discipline her for anything. She was housebroken only two weeks she was adopted. She slept in my bed, went to the park with me every day, rain, snow or shine. When I was sick in bed with the flu, she would rest her chin on my leg, comforting me with her presence. One day, when we were walking in a field behind a school, a high strung dog charged Mattie and tackled her. I could tell she was hurt and scared as she fled far into the distance, toward a busy street, the other dog in hot pursuit. I thought for sure she would get killed. The other dog eventually returned, but I didn't see Mattie. Then the dog started coming after me, snapping at my feet. Suddenly, there was Mattie, scooting out from underneath a parked car behind the school, where she took refuge, roaring toward me, a Lassie-like moment. Despite her fear, she ran up to me and sat right down at my feet, between me and the other dog, as if to say, "This is where I draw the line. You're not going to hurt my mama." I had never thought of her as a guard dog. She was always very sweet, submissive, would roll over on her back when people approached her. Never crossed her mind to be pack leader. She loved everybody, especially kids. I was so proud of her, I couldn't stop cooing to my friends for weeks on end about Mattie's unexpected act of bravery.

One day last October, Mattie had great difficulty getting up with me at 6:30 a.m. for our daily walk in the park. I took her anyway, thinking I had just awakened her from a deep sleep. She would shake it off, I thought. But she didn't. I took her to the vet, who said she was anemic. Every week, for four weeks, we had to go to the vets for a blood check. Even though she wasn't getting better, she was stabilized with a steroid. The vet, who was so wonderful with Mattie, told me at our last visit there might be something more seriously wrong with Mattie and perhaps she might need surgery. I decided to take her to a new facility that offered 24 hour care, which her previous vet did not have. I was ambivalent taking her from someone who knew her well and handing her off to strangers. Still, the lure was 24 hour care. The new vet scheduled diagnostic tests the next day. I took her in at 8 the following morning. She was scared, trembling. I hugged her and told her not to worry, I would be back to take her home. She refused to go with the volunteer who was pulling on her leash to take her back where the cages were. She trusted me. So I walked her to the cage, and pretended to go in, then closed the gate behind her. She spun around, and looked at me over her shoulder, as if to say, "Where ya goin?" I never looked back. She spent the entire day there. Tests showed she had some masses on her spleen. Later that day, I went to the facility and the vet said she should have surgery to remove her spleen the next day. I agreed. I told him I didn't want to see that night because I was worried she would be upset when I had to leave and it might make her weaker from the stress. I wanted her as strong as possible for surgery the next day. The office door opened into the cage area, so I knew she could hear me, that I was there. I felt bad.

The following morning, I went to work, choking back tears at my desk, unable to talk to anyone. I called the facility and asked how she was. She was resting comfortably. At 2 p.m., the surgeon called to say Mattie was resting comfortably following surgery and that the massed hadn't appeared to have spread. I was told I could come visit her at 8 p.m., when she would not be as groggy from the anesthesia. When I got home at 7 p.m., I called the hospital to see how Mattie was. I was told she was not moving. I was worried. She was always up and walking around by that time after previous surgeries. I was told she was conscious, but that the pain meds were making her more groggy. I was told to come by at 10 the following morning, when she would be more alert. I agreed, since she had been anemic and perhaps needed to focus on her recovery. Again, I thought visiting her would make her situation worse. After the phone call, I went to bed. The day had been so long and stressful.

At 1:45 a.m., the hospital called. "We have some bad news for you. Mattie just expired a few moments ago. She stopped breathing and we couldn't revive her."

I can't even begin to express what I was feeling at that moment. I felt like I had been hit by a train. My first words were, "God, I should have been there." She died alone in a strange place, as I had feared. Worse, I never got to say goodbye, this sweet dog I had always called my "babygirl." She was the love of my life, meant the world to me, never caused me a moment of trouble, always wanted to be with me. Yet in the end, for two days, I didn't visit her. I will never forgive myself. What was I thinking? My judgment had always been so sound when it came to her medical care. When she needed it the most, I failed her. She left this earth alone, wondering if I had abandoned her. She had to be thinking, "Where is she," waiting for me to take her home.

I got copies of her medical records, and found that the vets never even looked at her medical history and gave her a medication she could not have because it gave her seizures. They also gave her a potent sedative that's not supposed to be given to older dogs because it causes slow heartbeat and low blood pressure, and a potent pain killer she had never had before. The records show she started having breathing problems the moment she was given the sedative three hours after surgery. An autopsy failed to show a cause of death. The vets who cared for her during those three days believe she likely died of an irregular heartbeat. A vet tech told me later that she was in critical condition all evening, in a stupor, struggling to get up, but nobody ever called me to tell me that. I believe she was oversedated, but I will never know for sure.

I also learned the very reason I took Mattie to that facility - that it was the only one in the area that had 24 hour care - had nobody in the building when she died. They were out on break. The vet on 24 hour emergency call also didn't even bother to come in to help her, though she was called when the vet tech came back into the building and noticed Mattie was not breathing. There is so much more that happened, but it would take too long to note and this thread is already too long. In any event, I failed Mattie in the end. Miserably.

Her death has thrown me into a spiral of grief and despair that is nearly unbearable. It's been three months now, and I can't stop sobbing every day over her. I miss her so much. Everywhere I look in the house, the yard, the park, she's not there. I wish to God I could go back and change things. But I can't. I don't know if I'll ever want to get another dog, if it could cause me this much grief when it died. It is such a struggle. I don't know what I'd do without my job, which I've thrown myself into. Thankfully, I'm not laying around in bed, sobbing, doing nothing. It's not that kind of despair. But even as I'm working, in my car, before I go to sleep, and when I get up in the morning, I burst into tears, and I'm not the kind of person who cries easily. I hate to say this, but Mattie's death has affected me more deeply than the death of any of my relatives. My friends don't understand. They want me to get another dog, as if Mattie could ever be replaced.

I wish I had the chance to have said goodbye, to have held Mattie in my arms as she died. Goodbye, my sweet, sweet girl. I gave my heart to you completely, and you returned that love many times over.
 
R

RedyreRottweilers

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#2
I am so sorry for your loss.

I understand the depth of your grief, as I have also suffered such a loss.

It took me a long time to recover as well, and if not for the support and caring of my family and my (now) husband, I'm not sure I would have made it.

Roxy has been gone over 4 years now. Not a day goes by I don't think of her, but now it's with a smile instead of tears.

Don't deny your grief. It's normal. Time does help, and there will come a day down the road where you will think of her and you will smile instead of feeling the lump in your throat.

RIP ^Mattie^
 

e-chick

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#3
Please don't deny yourself the love you have to offer to another little dog that may not replace Mattie but enhance your life. We are only here once, why not make the best of it. I just lost my dog 2 days ago, I was devestated with grief, my husband is at home today as he can't face work. We loved that dog, she was our child a 13 yr daily routine now broken. I can empathise with your grief.

When I think about how my little jacob went, I realize she had it all planned and I couldn't have asked for a better way. She made it as easy as she could for us, but we had to extinguish her life, it was our doing - maybe Mattie thought that would be far too difficult for you to bear.

Last night I met a lady who breeds dogs and have already bought 2 little ones that I am bringing home this weekend. It's not just the dog that I loved that I miss so dearly it is their presence in my life, the quality of my life is greatly enhanced and when the crap comes along in daily quantities, I am able to cope that much better because I have this little entity that loves me no matter what I've done, how I feel or where I hurt. Their energy absorbs all the negativity and heals my soul with positive vibes, I honestly believe that is their purpose on this planet.

Don't deny yourself some sunshine in your life, let a new little one put a smile on your face and warm your heart. It will make your grieving be a lot less painful and you will still always have a place for Mattie in your heart, filled with wonderful memories.:)
 

sweetgirl

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#4
Thanks for your kind and comforting words, RedyreRottweilers and e-chick. I am very sorry for your losses as well. It helps me to know that you are getting through your grief. I will probably be thinking of Mattie every day in the next four years, too, if not forever. I am already starting to laugh at some of her photos instead of sobbing, so I know the healing is starting. But it's very slow.

I don't know if I'll ever get another dog, though, because the pain is so horrible. I want Mattie back and I'm not able to let her go. Was Mattie special and that's why I'm grieving so hard for her? Is it because I threw myself into loving her unlike any dog before? Did I love Mattie too much? Do I hold back all my love if I get another dog, fearful that I'll grieve as hard when it dies, too? I just don't know.

I was a foster mom for a shelter dog a month after Mattie died. I kept her for a week until a family came to adopt her. I could have kept her myself, but I just don't have anything to give to an animal right now, so caught up in the grief over Mattie. The shelter dog was really sweet, jumping up on my lap and giving me kisses. Not even Mattie did that. But she deserved someone who will give her 110 percent of their love. I apologized to her that I couldn't keep her. She even slept soundly in my bed at night. I made sure she had a good time, though, the short time I had her. I took her out every few hours (in the cold winter night, even) to help get her housebroken, took her to the park, got her a lot of treats, chew sticks, and new toys. Apparently, nobody wanted her since August, when she was found alone on the streets. I'm glad, though, a real nice family adopted her. They really wanted her. I communicated a couple of times with them, and they're crazy about her. Just the brief time I had her, I still think of her. Maybe that's a sign, too.
 

bubbatd

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#5
I feel your pain ,,,, Mattie must have been a wonderful friend, and no ,you can't replace her, but she will send you a friend to help fill the hole in your heart. My heart dog, Bubba, has been gone for over 5 years now... I only wish I had been a member of Chaz at that time for support. He will always remain in my heart as your Mattie will.... He will always be in my avatar, siggy too ! Chip is a wonderful friend to me.... and I loved all my dogs who are waiting for me. ((((((( Hugs )))))))))))))) from Grammy.
 

sweetgirl

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#6
Thanks, bubbatd, for your support. It means a lot. I live alone, and it's hard for my co-workers and family to understand my loss. It is so very kind of you guys to leave your comments to me, a stranger, particularly after the wayyy too long thread I left. I've read others comments on this board about others losses, many of which sound so much more painful and heartbreaking to me than the grief I'm going through. I'm just taking everything moment by moment, one foot in front of the other, somehow getting through the days. Hopefully, the pain will start to ebb. This is the hardest thing I've ever gone through.
 
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#7
Althought the end of life is painful, I think that if the end goes badly your grief gets all tied up with hatred of yourself for not doing things the right way. When it came time for my baby Sebastian, it went badly. The vet I chose SUCKED. Once you can get past your "failure" (direct quote), it does get a little easier.
I am so sorry for your loss. Mattie sounds like she was a wonderful companion. Please don't be afraid to bring love back into your home. You will know when it's time. It's not a matter of a "replacement". It's simply filling
the emptiness in your house...
 
R

RedyreRottweilers

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#8
I used this poem in my old girl's memorial.

My answer to the last hypothetical question is, for the love. Just for the love.

*hugs*

THE POWER OF THE DOG
Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years that nature permits
Are closing in asthma or tumors or fits
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers, or loaded guns.
Then you will find--its your own affair
But--you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You still discover how much you care
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em the more do we grieve;
For when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short time loan is as bad as a long--
So why in Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
 

sweetgirl

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Thanks, Mutt Lover, you're right about the grief being worse when the end doesn't go well. All the guilt and, for me, not being able to say goodbye. Of all the dogs I've ever had, I was not able to say goodbye to Mattie, my special special dog. That, and the guilt of not visiting her the final two days, hurts the worst.

And thanks, RedyreRottweilers, for the great poem!
 

bubbatd

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#10
Mattie forgives you ! I had a few I couldn't say goodbye to ....it's hard ! ( In fact Bubba was found dead , watching out the window the morning after I left on a 3 day trip ) How's that for guilt and a broken heart .!!!
 
R

RedyreRottweilers

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If I didn't think they were waiting for me, I'm not sure I could bear it.

Prayers for peace and acceptance, sweetgirl.
 

bubbatd

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#12
It will ba a stampeed when I arrive ...at least 13 dogs not counting my grand-dogs !!!
 

sweetgirl

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#13
Bubbatd, that's very sad. What did Bubba die of, if you don't mind me asking? Perhaps there are only a few of us that are able to say goodbye, the way we want to. When I got my first dog, Ginger, my parents made her live outside, though my dad made a nice dog house for her, filled it with straw, and moved it into our garage, which was separate from the house in our backyard. Still, I wished she could have come into the house. She died at only six years old on Halloween night. Dropped dead after she barked at my sister who was handing out candy at the front door in a witch's mask. I asked my sister to go in the backyard and see if Ginger knew who she was. We always did things like that because Ginger was a bassett hound/beagle mix and had an excellent sense of smell. We always played hide go seek with her, too, and she always won, no matter where we hid. But she barked at my sister, as if she didn't know her. About a minute later, my dad found her gasping for air on the driveway before she died seconds later. My sister, who doesn't even like dogs that much, to this day blames herself for Ginger's death, though I think it was because our garage was broken into a few days before and burglarized. Ginger was very territorial and a great watchdog, and she would have bitten any intruder, yet we didn't hear her bark that night at all. We hadn't noticed that our bikes and motorcycle and tools were stolen until a couple days later when I went to get my bike. I remember Ginger during those final three days looking tired and withdrawn. I think someone must have slipped her something, i.e., poison, that made her drop. These sweet babies are just so innocent. It's hard not to blame ourselves when things go wrong. My friend keeps telling me that I have to get past those final two days when Mattie was at the hospital and I didn't go visit her, and focus on the 12 1/2 years I had with her, and treated her like a queen. That seems to be helping me. Trying not to focus on those two days. And everyone's kind words on this board.
 

e-chick

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Sweetgirl:
Guilt is a very hard thing to get over, I'd say it is the worse thing to deal with - more than grief. It can eat your soul and create disease. You have to learn to forgive yourself and replace that guilt with the knowledge that your little Mattie had a great life and that's why she was with you for so long. She picked her time and the way she had to go, I believe they all do. They may not always be the way we'd like to see them go, but we also have to respect the choice that they made in their depature.

I believe animals don't really die, they just take on another extension of existence, we just can't see them. So for them, they aren't really leaving us and they know that. I wish I could see my little Jake right now, I have her pictures up at my desk at work and I look at them and know she's here with me in my heart. I may not be able to physically see or touch her but I can feel her energy.

Perhaps start focusing on not feeling so guilty and her depature, that was what only 5 days of her life, think about the 12 you had with her. Good times no doubt - that's what her existence is all about. She wouldn't want you to feel so bad. I know for me, it's only been 4 days since Jake died and I do have my moments, but I had to go out and get more puppies. I can't stand not having that happy little energy around me. I will never forget my dear Jake and if I could, I'd take that old crotchy dog back in a heart beat over these two new guys. But dogs aren't meant to out live us.

I figure this is the plan - there are many of us out there that truly love animals, dogs, etc. We are the special ones because we see the treasure of being in an animals prescence can bring. It is the animals that pick us as owners but they have a deal where they won't hog us but share us for the next guy - that's why they don't live very long or as long as we'd like.

Here's a poem I found that says it all:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there, I did not die.

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#15
Sweetgirl... I'm so sorry for your loss and pain. Our babies are so special to us. I'm Bubbatd's daughter. Bubba was a gigantic golden who had an enlarged heart, but never had issues. We think he had a heart attack. She and I went on a short trip together and when we got back, saw my sister's car in the driveway (and she lived all the way in Chicago and we're in Indy). It was about 1 a.m. and we knew there was a problem, and were scared something had happened to my father, who was in poor health. When we got to the door, my sister came out and grabbed my Mom and hugged her crying saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Bubba Died!" My Mom went ballistic. She screamed NOOOOOOOOOO and just ran off around the house to the back going crazy. It was awful. I'll never forget it. We called him her velcro. They were inseparable. She has Chip now (Chip 'O Bubba, Bubba's offspring), but it will never be the same. No baby can take the place of another. You will always hold a special place in your heart for each special one. God Bless you and your special life with Sweet Girl...
 

sweetgirl

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RedyreRottweilers, the thought of being reunited with Mattie some day is also helping me through this. I wonder who she is with, since none of my relatives liked dogs. My dad was fond of them, though, so he's probably keeping her for me.

When I was a little kid, my family was the only one on the block that didn't have a dog. I loved them so much. When neighbors went on vacation, they asked me to take care of their dogs. They paid me $1 a day. I would have done it for nothing because I loved them so much. I pretended they were mine, and I took them for walks, fed them, gave them water. My sister did not care much for dogs, not like I do, anyway. She was very popular in school and had a lot of friends. I was a pudgy kid, very shy, hard to make friends. I learned from a very early age that dogs loved me, no matter what. How special is that? If I saw a stray dog on the streets, it would just ruin my day. I kept nagging my mom for a dog, but she thought I was too young, that I would get bored with it, cast it aside after a few weeks like a well-used toy, then she and my dad would get stuck taking care of it. When I was 11, my mom came home from work and asked me to go bring in a box in the backseat of her car. I did, and it was a puppy. I still remember the thrill of it. Ginger and I did just about everything together, though she was an outside dog. My mom was surprised that I loved her and doted on her until the day she died. I always wondered how people can live without dogs. It must be genetic.

e-chick, I am very sorry for your recent loss of Jake. I admire your strength, getting new dogs, giving them a home. You're also right about the guilt. It does torture the soul, and makes us sick. It is starting to take a toll on me, the crying, depression, headaches. When she died last October, I stopped walking in the park for the first time in 12 1/2 years. I started again the other day, for the first time in three months. But it feels odd, not seeing her running ahead of me. The grief is slowly lifting. I don't cry as readily when I see her photos. I am getting ready to sell the house this spring, which I was going to do, anyway. I'm sure that will help. A few days ago, I felt Mattie becoming a memory, which, in an odd way, I don't want because it just reminds me she is not here. But, I know I have to let her go.

Thanks e-chick for the lovely poem. I will print it and put in in Mattie's scrapbook. And thanks EliNHunter for telling me about Bubba, who sounded like a real sweetheart. The description of your family's grief says it all about how special he was. Thanks, too, for your comforting thoughts about my Mattie. Thanks to all of you for telling me about your sweet babies. You have helped me realize I am not alone in my grief. God Bless all of you for your kindness.
 

Sheba

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#17
That is so sad :(
You will be with her someday, though, and you can happily go about your daily routines, treats, hugs, and kisses.
I had a loss. Sheba. She was born on the same day as I, same time, same year. She and I were like sisters. But then she turned on us and became mean. She got too mean, and we had to turn her over to the shelter. They did tests on her and tried to make it better, but Sheba just wouldnt cooperate and turn back to the sweet girl she was. They put her to sleep. At least it was a nice, peaceful death... I'm sure your dog died thinking " I'll see her again someday." And is watching over you this very second,trying to follow you everywhere. So don't cry, or she'll nip at your heels because she can't take it anymore!
 

sweetgirl

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#18
I'm very sorry about your loss, Sheba. To be so close to your dog, then to have it turn on you, had to be heartbreaking. Did she become aggressive because she was ill?

Thanks for the thoughtfull words about Mattie. I sometimes do feel she is watching over me. For a few weeks after she died, I swear I could hear her paws hit the wooden floor in my bedroom as she had jumped off the bed to come and greet me at the door. Touching a photo of her also helps. I know that sounds odd, but I can feel her spirit - something - that immediately comforts me. Can't explain it, as it is an inanimate object, but surprised me nonetheless.
 

bubbatd

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#19
Sheba... this must have really affected you ! I'm glad you still have her in your heart. Sweetgirl..pictures help... I have one of Bubba near my bed, and nightly when Chip gets in my bed to cuddle, the last thing he does before putting his head down is to look at the picture on the wall and sigh....I hug him and tell him he will be waiting for us.
 

ShadowCat

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#20
I am very deeply sorry for your loss sweetgirl. Since Mattie had a splenic tumor, she probably had hemangiosarcoma. One of my dogs has recently been diagnosed with splenic hemangiosarcoma. It has been one month since last Saturday since he had his spleen removed. He didn't tolerate chemo, it was too toxic for him, so now I'm just waiting to see what happens I guess. Dogs with hemangiosarcoma can live anywhere from 1-8 months, but usually 1-3 months. I've had him for 12 1/2 years, and he is 12 1/2 now. I'm only 14, so it's like I've had him for my whole life. I don't know how I will live without him. I cry thinking about it.
 

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