Dear Athena

My dear, sweet Athena,
I am so sorry. So, so, so, so goddamn sorry. We failed you and I’ll never forgive myself.
We love you so much. I hope you know that. We didn’t forget about you, and we never will. We were working so hard to try to get you to Windhoek as soon as possible, but we didn’t work hard enough. I will never stop regretting that. You were supposed to arrive here yesterday, and our lives will never be the same.
I said good-bye to you when I dropped you off at the kennel, knowing that two and a half months is a long time and who knows what could happen, but I never expected this. I’m glad I had the chance to hug you and kiss you, and that we took family photos the night before. Those photos are so precious.
I hope you spent your last days playing with your friends, getting fed lots of treats, and lying in the sun, relaxing. I hope they were care-free, easy times and that you were living your best life. We wanted to take you with us, but we worried that flying across the Atlantic ocean twice in six weeks in the middle of the summer would be too much for you. We thought that leaving you in Oman at a kennel you loved was the best choice. And the fact that the whole thing was my idea will haunt me for the rest of my days. I will never forgive myself.
They say you died of smoke inhalation. I hope that you were fast asleep, on your favorite mat, ducking in your sleep like you always do, with you nose tucked under your back leg. I hope you didn’t feel a thing. Just thinking about it makes me wail with grief. It breaks my heart.
We explained to M what happened, and he knows “Afeena died.” It makes me so sad that he might not remember you. You were such a big part of his life, and he thought of you as his doggie. We will make sure he never forgets you, and the memory of you will live on.
We were lucky to have so many amazing, fun years with you. We’ll never forget all those hikes at Manassas, how much you loved basking in the sun, all the time spent snuggling, how much you loved playing lazy tug, all the foot licks, the happy puppy rolls in the grass, playing fetch on the beach, the family camping trips, deer leaps in the tall grass, the list goes on. We have so many wonderful memories, and the photos to go along with them. For that, I’m grateful.
You weren’t perfect (who is?) but you tried so hard and you loved us so much. You are, and forever will be, part of our family. You’re with us in spirit now, and although you can’t snuggle with us or beg for food, we still feel your presence.
We love you, Beanie bear. I hope you’re playing non-stop with all the amazing dogs that went before you, and I hope Sparky, Kipper, Bianca, Lilly, Toby, Taz, and Beauty are all keeping you company.
All my love, now and forever,
Mom
Rest in Peace Athena: December 20, 2009 – October 3, 2019
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