You were my first.
My very own. And though I may not have picked you out, you waddled into my life on those tiny little legs and stole my heart with your silly smile. I could not deny your big brown eyes anything.
I grew with you.
Just as you learned much from me, I learned from you. I watched as you grew and developed your own quirky personality. We learned how to live with each other and in our own space. We learned to communicate and you were always there to lend me an ear. We played late into the evenings, enjoyed quiet time doing nothing, and I held you when you were scared.
You protected me.
All those nights I was alone, you stayed by my side, never leaving. And though I know Mom worried, there was never anything to fear with you by my side. When they say you have to watch out for the little guy, they were talking about you. For no one could get near me without you noticing and voicing your opinion on the matter.
I left you.
It wasn’t supposed to be for long, just enough time to get set up and find a space for you. I left you in good hands, but that didn’t make it easier either. And you seemed to know I needed to go. I left you with a good playmate, one we visited often together and you knew and liked well. Together, the two of you grew older but you kept each other young.
I left a piece of my heart with you.
I thought of you often, called to see how you were and check up on you. You seemed happy, and after a while, I knew you’d never be with me. I couldn’t blame you – she needed you more than I did, even if I hated admitting it out loud.
I watched you slow down.
It didn’t happen overnight, but the days that I got to see you, I noticed. The roundness in your tummy. The tired walk to greet me. The delay before you noticed I was there. Though through it all, you still wagged your tail every time you saw me coming, even the very last time.
Tonight, it has all caught up with you.
Tonight was the last time we’ll get to say hello again, for I couldn’t stand to watch you suffer any longer. Your little body riddled with cancer, eating you up from the inside, had no more to give. You tried to deny it as long as you could, to stay strong and protect like your instincts tell you you should, but in the end you gave in and said you’d given all you could.
Tonight, you left me.
But you didn’t leave just me. You left everyone that your life touched and that was no small number. Though you were little, your heart was big. All it took was a tummy rub for you to lavish kisses. Others may have looked at you and said what a strange looking little guy you were, but all I could see was the love in your eyes when you looked at me, my fierce protector.
Chase those bunnies in the sky, my little Bennie.
June 23, 2001 – July 20, 2012