A Sudden Goodbye

He walks through the door, uncertain of what awaits; eyes wide and heavy of breath.  I am there to greet him, like so many times before – like so many others before.

He doesn’t know. But I do.

His friend hesitates but tries desperately not to meet his gaze.  This moment has been a long time coming, but neither of them are prepared.  Others are watching now and I try to move them away. Too many people, too many questions.  As the small crowd disperses, I return to him knowing there is nothing I can say.  I stand patiently in silence in the corner of the small room; my eyes refusing to betray me despite the weight barreling down on me.  The final words have been said; the final papers signed.  His friend finally looks down upon him and in a sudden moment an expression of happy innocence hits his face.  He believes it will be ok.

He doesn’t see. But I do.

A final awkward hug is exchanged as a tear rolls down his friend’s face.  He gives his friend a kiss on the cheek as they embrace and then suddenly in a flash his friend is gone.  He is alone.  As he looks around, panic begins to set in and I am there to catch him as cries echo through the hallway.  I bring him to his bed; a room where all the others that came before him have stayed.  I close the door behind me and turn around to meet his bewildered glare.  As our eyes meet for the first time, he calms briefly and I extend my hand in greeting.  He pauses and stares at it for a while, before wagging his tail and licking the open face of the palm of my hand.  I say goodnight and turn off the lights and he lets out a bark.  There is a short silence before he lets out another. Slowly, he is joined by the sound of his brothers and sisters; all the others that currently are. The cries of the lost, the forgotten, the abandoned, the hopeless, the hurt, and the homeless.

They don’t understand. But I do.

I go home, leaving the day behind me; a good day, but a hard one all the same.  I get to eat, and sleep, and play, and hold the ones I love.  And when the sun goes down and the day is finally done, I crawl into bed, close my eyes, and I see each of their faces staring back at me through the darkness.

I do not sleep. But they do.

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Dedicated to all those who work tirelessly at animal shelters and rescues around the world, and to those who care enough to give animals the best life possible. Thank you.

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