At the end of 2016, my family and I had to say goodbye to a very beloved pet - my darling little Dimitri.
It's never easy saying goodbye to someone you love, and this was the first time in my life I had to make the difficult decision to let go of an animal I've had as a part of my life for the past 15 years.
Back in Ohio, me and my college roommate, Jess, decided it was time to get a cat. I grew up only having small animals (hamsters, lizards, etc.), and never knew what it was like to have a pet like this. We made plans to go to the animal shelter together.
When we first got there, we were completely overwhelmed. There were SO MANY CATS EVERYWHERE. There were kittens, older cats, and everything in between all running free in a big room. We had no idea where to begin!
Eventually, we decided to sit on the floor across from one another and let the cats come to us. Jess had her eye on an older cat - big, orange, and a little scraggly looking. I was quickly falling in love with a playful black kitten. But there was one cat that just wouldn't leave us alone. He kept butting his head into my back and meowing at me.
Exasperated I said, "what the heck do you want, cat!?" and he looked up at me, meowed, walked into my lap, and curled himself into a ball. He looked up at me, quite comfortable in his new spot.
I said, "Jess, I think this is the one," but she was going to take some more convincing. I told her to just give him a chance, so she called him to his lap by patting her knees and saying "c'mere kitty!" He got up from my lap, walked over to hers, and curled into a ball.
We both looked up at each other and smiled. This was the one. We took him home that day.
From then on, he snuggled with us constantly. He loved being on laps and getting his head scratched. He loved playing with the plastic rings around the lids of milk jugs. He would run to the door when we got home, meowing constantly as if to tell us all about his day. He loved everyone immediately, and charmed the pants off anyone who met him. He even won over the most adamant "cat haters" with his charm.
He had a long and happy life, and I'm glad that we could give him a loving home outside of the shelter. But it's never easy to say goodbye.
They say it's better to have loved and lost than to never love at all, and I've always believed that to be true. The happiness and joy that is felt from loving other people (and pets) I would take no matter what - even if it ends in heartbreak.
I refuse to let fear of loss hold me back from loving. The scars from where my heart has been broken just shows that it is being used to its fullest potential. It is constantly growing, changing, and loving more and more.
Have you loved a pet dearly that you had to let go? What is your favorite story about them?