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Bye, Nick This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The sun smiled down on the driveway, and the wind kissed the heat off my sweaty face. My brother glared back, his flushed face screwed up in concentration, ready for the next pitch. I rotated the wiffleball in my hand, squeezing my fingers against the holes, ready to throw my knuckle ball. A soft whistle emanated from the ball as it left my hand, and, with a blur of yellow and a loud whack, the ball screamed back at me. I caught it in my bare hand.

I tossed my brother the ball. It was my turn at bat. Normally we would have said something to each other, but not today. Today, there was no bright sun, and for us the breeze was akin to a hurricane. Today we played wiffleball not for pleasure, but for distraction from grief.

As the neighbors began to arrive at the house, we stopped our game to take pictures. All the subjects in these pictures were random, save for one constant. Our golden retriever, Nicholas, must have been bemused by all the attention he was getting. At 17, he had lost his hearing and most of his sight, but he was still grateful for every day. Yet today was his last. With grief in our hearts my family had agreed it was time to put him to sleep. “He’s just being a good sport now,” reasoned Mom. “It would be selfish of us to leave him like this much longer.”

At 5:30 my brother, father, and I left the house before the vet arrived. We all said our good-byes to Nick, who was now back in the kitchen. The tears that streamed down my face dripped onto his nose. He munched happily on the almonds I gave him, unaware of the pain of the boy kneeling above him. His eyes, a dull brown, were like magnets for my blue ones. I kissed his nose and the tears flowed again as I said, “Bye, Nick. Grandpa’s gonna walk you now.” I had to tear myself away, wiping my eyes and grabbing my car keys.

We drove to the river, and then to the ball field. My dad and I played catch until my brother said, “Mom says it’s over. We can go home.”

We must have looked like robots getting out of the car and marching to the backyard. Mom was sitting in the grass crying next to a bundle of white fabric. He looks so small, I thought, and the floodgates behind my eyes opened again, temporarily blinding me. As a family, we bore Nick to the hole near the rock wall. My dad lowered him in. We crowned him with flowers as we stood around the hole. The sheet around him matched his coat perfectly.

My mom graced him with a few words, and then my father and I began to bury him. Mom offered to take the shovel, but I shook her off. I was determined to bury him, to physically pay for every happy moment he had given me that I might have taken for granted. My shovel stopped, hovering over his head, the last exposed part. A final tear landed on the blanket, and I gently slid the dirt from the shovel onto his head.

We placed flowers on the mound that now covered our faithful pet. We stood around his grave, earth now separating us from a dog that hadn’t been able to bear to be apart from us in life. People claim that they have great pets, but I know I had the greatest. I will never forget Nick, and though the flowers have wilted, and no more telltale white hair clings to the rugs, he still walks in my heart.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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This article has 25 comments. Post your own!

Sirena said...
Mar. 25, 2012 at 12:46 pm:
I know how you feel. My mom just told me we have to put my cat Josie to sleep by Easter. She's sixteen, and she can't get up from the basement anymore. This piece captures those emotions perfectly. An excellent bit of writing.  
 
Mime89This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
May 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm :
You made me remeber when my cat and dog died. You are an amazing writer. Thank you!
 
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ninja17 said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 1:38 pm:

I don't know what I'm going to do when my doggie dies...this brought tears to my eyes. You did a wonderful job. 5 stars!

 

 
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SidPusain said...
Oct. 1, 2011 at 7:55 am:
A simple but a very moving one. I lost my dog and seeing the dog in pain was worse than safely putting him to sleep. Its not losing its helping it out of mesery. Still i miss my dog.
 
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albinovampire said...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 10:01 pm:
my dog Angel, my best friend, dide when i was eight, she was a puppy, and was hit by a car. a peice of me died inside, the other day, i sat down and cried twice  in a day, mourning that  she had died, im almost 13 now, and i still love and miss her with all of my heart, and if i could have 1 more day with her, i would give up anything in a heart beat.
 
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HippieNamedAnna said...
Nov. 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm:
exact same thing with my dog. and we out her to sleep ON THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! but she was 19. and blind and deaf and i think a failing liver. idk. but it was really sad.
 
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EternalLove said...
Oct. 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm:
oh wow im deeply sorry..i have the same thing happen with my dogs :/
 
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DustBunny said...
Oct. 17, 2010 at 7:38 pm:

My dog Henry died in July. He was hit by a car. I can't stop crying now.

 

 
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allezy said...
Oct. 14, 2010 at 7:14 pm:
I am crying right now, that happened to my lab, Phoebe and I feel like you're describing that day for me too. Excellent
 
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crzybookworm said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 2:29 pm:
Wow. I got chills reading that. It was amazing and beautifully written. People get so attached to their pets, and when we lose them, its devastating. Great job.
 
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jaquetem said...
May 13, 2010 at 6:44 pm:
Oh my gosh, I have tears in my eyes now. That was so beautifully written. I'm sorry about your dog :(
 
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SecretNonConformist said...
May 4, 2010 at 5:19 pm:
very touching!
 
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Marie-Evee said...
Mar. 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm:
Wow, very sad. :( I'm crying right now. This really touched me. Ilove my dog so much, I don't wanna loose him. He's my best friend. <3 He's the one who's always been there, throughgood, and sometime rough times.  Keep writing. :)
 
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Peanut:) said...
Jan. 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm:
Ah, I know everyone is saying 'i can relate to this' and what not, but really, we all can... I lost the world's best dog a few months ago... now that I look back I wish I would have written about it... to this day I still cry when I look at the last picture we ever took of him. You really captured this emotion well, keep writing :)
 
WriterFanatic This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jan. 24, 2010 at 7:23 pm :
In June, I went away to Europe, leaving my 4 year old cat Tiger, who had heart problems. We had given him medicine, and we saved him from dying from a stroke. However, half way through our trip he got another stroke and died... and I wasn't there. I still hurts to this day. I have tears in my eyes when I write this. But you know what, my cat, like your dog, gave the best years of their lives to us. That is a gift. Its never fun to lose a pet. But, hey you never forget them, so they are stil... (more »)
 
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gallagher This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 10, 2009 at 8:47 pm:
Wow man, I almost cried. Pets don't live long enough at all. I mean my dog is my best friend. I can't even think of living without him...
 
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Jezabel said...
Oct. 27, 2009 at 10:30 am:
this is so beautiful
 
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brianj said...
Oct. 5, 2009 at 3:38 pm:
I was truly touched by your story, and can relate to the pain of losing a pet that means the world to you. One minute they are there nuzzling you with their noses, and the next they are in the ground. Reading this brought back memories of all the tears I have cried for the departed, and I thank you for stirring my mind. I had to smile at the last sentence of your piece, "I will never forget Nick, and though the flowers have wilted and no more telltale white hair clings to the rug, he sti... (more »)
 
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Madi J. said...
Sept. 18, 2009 at 8:13 pm:
i seriously started tearing up. i have a golden too
 
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carrielynn said...
Apr. 23, 2009 at 5:58 pm:
This is a beautiful piece...wonderfully written, but also incredibly touching, and I had tears in my eyes after reading it. It flowed almost flawlessly and had really great descriptions.
 
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