Best friends, they’re hard to come by, impossible for me. I’ve tried my hand at the whole bestfriend thing a few times and it never ended well for me. The first girl I had known for three years before a stupid mistake made the entire friendship go up in flames in the matter of three days. The second one I had known for a year and a half before a disagreement about having disagreements lead to us deciding to talk about in in the morning when we had both cooled off, only for us to never speak to each other again. The final three had been more ‘good friends’ than ‘best friends’ but after a stupid betrayal from both sides, that relationship turned sour as well. I became used to being alone, used to speaking friendly to people without investing too much of myself into it. Teenagers aren’t the best at relationships anyway, or so Hollywood would have us believe. I was convinced that I would never have a best friend again, not until I lost him anyway.
His name was Diamond, a purebred collie. Now any dog owner will tell you that their dog was the most beautiful dog in the world, that doesn’t mean you have to believe them. But Diamond had a rich brown coat and a white mane. The curves of his face and snout left no question that he was a relative of the wolf and he may have had thin legs but they held so much power.
He was the typical dog, he loved everybody and greeted eagerly when you came home. He would jump on strangers because he wanted to play and he would bark at people who walked past the house because he wanted pets. He’d gotten in fights before and had the strength to kill but never did. He’d sooner let himself get hurt than to hurt another dog. He would be just as happy to lay around the house all day with you as he would be running around and playing with the soft squeaky toys that he always managed to tear into pieces. Even when he threw up you had to adore him because he would get this intrigued look on his face and try to eat it up.
You couldn’t help but to love this dog. When you played with him and he started to get tired, his open, panting mouth made him look like he was grinning ear to ear. He had the heart of a puppy even up to his last few days.
We knew he had been getting old. He had a small limp every once in awhile or a short lapse in his boundless energy. He was thirteen years old, an old man by dog standards. It was a Friday night when he first threw up. We didn’t think very much of it until he had problems laying down. It was obvious that he was in pain from the slow, careful way that he lowered himself to the ground. His ears were permanently folded back against his head and I was sure I had never seen him more pitiful. That night he didn’t want to get up to go to bed. We tried to entice him to get up, even offered him a slice of ham but he wouldn’t even lift his head.
By Saturday evening, he had thrown up a couple more times and when he wasn’t throwing up, he was limp on the floor. It had been two days since he’d eaten last. We all loved him with everything we had, we kept telling ourselves that he was just a little sick and he would get better soon but he didn’t. Sunday afternoon was his last day.
I worked morning shifts on Sunday morning and I remember being happy as can be, making jokes with my coworkers about how excruciatingly busy it was and later how dreadfully slow it was. Then an hour before my shift ends I get a text from my dad that I am sure I will never forget.
Can you leave work early? Diamond is getting worse. I think we need to take him to the vet today.
That was all it took for my world to come crashing around me. In general, I don’t like emotions and everyone knew that. I don’t like crying or admitting that I’m upset to anybody. Normally I’m very good at burying my emotion but that day all of my coworkers could see my eyes welling up as I forced myself to make it to four o’clock when they told me I could leave.
We were at the vet within the hour, me and my entire family. Diamond sat in the trunk of our SUV and for the entire drive I had my arm slung over the back seat, gently running my fingers through his fur. I had been holding it strong for as long as I could but when my dad, the strongest person in my life, started crying was when I couldn’t hold on anymore. I sat on the floor with Diamond, listening to his labored breaths and the sound of my own uncontrolled sobbing. I sat with him long as I could and I remember numbly shaking my head when the nurse asked if we needed any more time with him.
I had the clearest view of Diamond when they finally came in, sitting right in front of him. I could see his face, his body, his arm with a little tube in it so they could inject the medicine easier. The doctor sat down next to him as she told us what would happen. The first injection was to calm him down and numb his pain, the second was the one that would send him away. The seconds stretched into hours as I watched the doctor inject the first serum. It was a thick white liquid, it almost looked like cream. I like to think that she was giving him some warm milk that would make it easier for him to go to sleep. I was happy for a moment, Diamond was calm now, breathing much easier and looked a million times more relaxed. The doctor told us such before pressing the second needle into the tube. This was a bright, translucent, pink liquid and I didn’t care to think about what it was doing. I felt like I could see Diamond slowly dying. When she was done she pulled out her stethoscope and pressed it to Diamond’s chest. She pulled it away a few seconds later and uttered the words that echoed in my head for hours afterwards.
If it hadn’t been so heartbreaking then it may have actually been funny that the doctors kept calling him a girl, as none of us were in the right mind to correct them. Looking back I wonder if Diamond had been scared, or did he know that this was his time and was happy to fall into a blissful sleep.
Later the vet sent us a card with a story on it. The story about a rainbow bridge where all the dogs waited for their humans in a land of endless treats and squeaky toys before crossing into heaven. Whether I believed in such things or not matters less than what it told me, that my best friend was happy and even though I might never see him again, he really was the truest best friend I have ever known.