Sometimes it seems like life is racing by; at other times it’s like time is standing still. I’ve been on this treadmill of looking for a condo and it has absorbed much of my time.

But grief stands like a sentry in the background, just waiting to throw the full cloak of sorrow around me.

My dog Charlie on the couch looking at me

Grief is sometimes like time standing still. You can be distracted; even start to look forward to things again. But if you try to push it aside and into a closet it comes roaring back in full force.

Like a phantom limb, you feel grief there at the periphery at all times.

Remembering My Sweet Charlie:

Sometimes I think of Charlie and just break into great gasping tears that feel like my body is turning itself inside out.

I will be honest here. Sometimes I feel like a murderer. I know that’s a very strong word. But I can’t escape it.

I chose that day and that time. He could have lived longer. This troubles me greatly. I don’t know if I did the right thing.

We don’t put people to sleep. That’s called murder. But what about pets?

I watched him take his last breath.

It wasn’t as natural as I’d have liked it to be. As I’d wished it would be.

What I’m Wrestling With:

Sometimes I look in the mirror and think: I murdered sweet Charlie.

And that’s the hardest thing for me to accept.

It wasn’t like with Abi 3 years ago. I mean, death was not imminent with Charlie. Abi had rapid onset kidney failure and the end was near. There was no changing that despite all the measures I had the vet take to keep her alive.

But Charlie was still his sweet loving self, wanting nothing more than to be near me. Yes, he had slowed down and couldn’t do a lot of the things he could do a year ago.

He was getting frail. But he wasn’t dying. Not that day. Death wasn’t imminent.

I wrestle with this thought daily. I don’t know what to think. How to feel. I can’t seem to bottle that thought up and put it away. Because in the past my pets had been on the brink of death or they were really, truly sick and suffering.

Was he suffering too much? Did he still have a quality of life? Did I do the right thing? Oh God, did I do the right thing?

Was It The Right Thing To Do?

I guess I’ll never really know, will I? Maybe someday I’ll find peace with it. I hope so.

But I do know this. Grief is standing in the shadows waiting for me to be totally absorbed in it. To let it wash over me like waves in the ocean and leave me gasping for air.

You can’t put it off forever. It is an emotion you cannot push aside and say you’re done with it.

I’ve been trying to hold back because it scares Ivy. But there’s no shutting it out. Maybe you can sometimes postpone your deepest sorrow, but you have to let it wash over you.

Time stands still until you let grief run its course. If there is such a thing as grief ever really ending. I don’t know that there is.

A Break From Condo Searching:

I’m a bit tired of this real estate stuff. I think I might take some time off from that. But I know, in doing so, the grief will completely take over. There will be no distractions. I will be immersed in grief until I am pleading for mercy.

It’s not that I haven’t been grieving; I have. But I haven’t stood completely still and let the full force of it bring me to my knees.

And I know in my heart that I have to do that.

Do you remember this song? It suddenly just came to me. And it reminds me of Charlie.

Time In A Bottle

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save everyday ’til eternity passes away
Just to spend it with you

And if I could make days last forever
And if words could make wishes come true
We’d walk through the fields of ripening corn
And time would flow through us and you

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

So if only I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ’til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

And I’d save everyday like a treasure and then
Again and again I’d spend them with you

{“Time in a Bottle” was a hit single by singer-songwriter Jim Croce}

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  1. Brenda, I keep reading and rereading this day’s post. I can’t get away from it. Your sweet Charlie is a loss you will feel as long as you live; just as you still feel the loss of Abi. I cry every time I read this. It also speaks to me personally. I have lost the dearest of pets and my heart still aches for them, but on May 14th I lost my 52 year old son. I am feeling that feeling you describe of time flying by and then time standing still. I found his baby book today and started reading about when he was born and when he started school and when he fell off his bike and knocked out his two front teeth. Then he joined the Navy and left home as a total independent and my heart was breaking. Now he is gone. He was my best friend. I know how you loved your Abi and Charlie, as I did my little pug Phoebe and my kitty Toonses. I love and will forever miss my son John Carlin Hunt. Love and hugs to you and Ivy Lou. Sandra

  2. You have time in a bottle with memories. The feeling you are having are okay. They are yours. During the past two years your pet was very ill and you sacrificed your sleep, time, and money for his care. He was failing and death was approaching. It is your job now to move forward and open that bottle of memories when you want to. You can even fill that bottle with sweet tears.

  3. We’ve had to make this decision 3 times now. I’ve always felt that was the best thing for my fur baby. I never wanted them to suffer. To me that was the humane thing to do. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and I know you did everything you could for Charlie. I was always so concerned about his coughing and how that had to be difficult for him. Tell yourself he lived a long and good life with you. You have nothing to feel guilty about.
    Knowing and telling yourself these things will not get rid of the grief, that will come no matter what. For me, it takes time yes but I can look and think back of all my fur babies and have mostly happy memories without the cloud of sadness.

  4. I am so sorry for your grief and loss. I have been there and had to say goodbye in the same respect as you and your Charlie. I once had a sickly Cocker..and she would wake me up at night walking around the house..I had a stressful job to attend the next day..and the Vet said to me that I must crate her in a different room..and he said if you can’t…then I can’t help you. It sounds like unfortunately that Charlie was affecting your health, also. ..and you loved him so much you would do anything to care for him. But we must care for our own well-being first, before we can be caregivers. I think Charlie would understand that very much. This is a tear-jerker reading your pain. I am so sorry and peace will come to you soon..the peace that you know you did all that you could to help Charlie…including many of the appointments you took him to that helped him a long time. I know its too soon..but I hope one day another puppy or doggie will come into your you are a great pet parent. Take care. PS… I hope the condo will show up for you one day soon. Thats so frustrating I am sure to get your heart set on one..happened to me years ago with our first house. ..and I had already decided where I would place our furnishings.. :0( ..

  5. I let the tears flow as I read this.I guess because I have felt this feeling ,and still feeling it now somewhat. I wonder why do we suffer so in this life? I am dealing with many health problems now and other life problems .I feel for you as you go thru this very hard time in your life . I am so very sorry . But I think you did the right thing for Charlie .Hold Ivy close and she will help you thru this awful time .My heart goes out to you .

  6. even pets have spirits. 3 cats have visited me after death. 2 were put to sleep. Just talk to Charlie and tell him how you feel. He will listen and understand. The problem is that you miss him. Tell him that.

  7. Brenda, it’s been over three years since I euthanized my dear Tavi and later our elderly cat, Rhoda. All in all I’ve had to euthanize three dogs and the one cat and in each case I still wonder whether it was the right decision. I hated, hated, hated doing it and, especially with Tavi, I am still overcome with grief sometimes. In all the cases in my life where I’ve euthanized an animal I could see suffering in the near future and/or I could not manage the symptoms of the illness. But those facts don’t necessarily comfort me nor lessen the guilt I feel at times. It’s just terribly, terribly painful to go through and I don’t think I will ever come to a final decision about whether it was the right thing to do. I think you do the best you know to do at the time which is all any of us can do. I think that you could see the road ahead for Charlie and out of love wanted to spare him suffering. But knowing that doesn’t necessarily resolve the doubt and the grief. I guess the bottom line is that we make our decisions with the best of intentions and then must live with them. I think you just have to let the grief and uncertainty come and go and experience them as fully as you can and with time they will decrease some. It is the cost of loving an animal. Some of us are brave enough to let them into our hearts and then are faced with trying to be brave enough to let them go. My tho’ts are with you as you walk this path, Brenda.

  8. We made the same decision about one of our dogs last weekend and I was shocked by the level of grief I felt. It was not the first dog for which we’d made the decision, but, oh my heart shattered into a million shards. I did chose to stay with our girl during the euthanization process, I did not want her to be alone, she was my shadow for 14 years and I wanted my presence to provide her with comfort. As with your Charlie, our Daisy perhaps could have lived longer. But she had been hospitalized over July 4th weekend and the separation anxiety was so hard on her that my spouse and I agreed we would not do hospitalization again. When she started exhibiting similar declining health conditions only a week later, we chose to not let the pain reach the level it had been the prior weekend. I discussed it with the ER vet and felt a sense of relief that she agreed to our decision. Yet still…I did wonder if it was the right choice. However, when I had taken our other dog by our regular vet’s office the day after Daisy’s death for a routine nail trim and filled our regular vet in on what had occurred, he told me some dogs can have bloody diarrhea and vomiting for 3 or 4 days due to pancreatitis, and I thought to myself right then that no, that is not what we wanted for our sweet Daisy, we made the right choice. She had been in physical pain and at-home prescription meds were not helping. (The ER vet also discovered heart issues, which can be caused by pancreatitis.) Quality of life counts for something. I hope you find peace in your decision and please know that you are not alone in you grief.

  9. Brenda, I’ve been there for Cleatus, Toby, lady, Trix, and other pets. Yes, you will always second guess yourself. It really hurts, and the hurt will stay with you forever. But you know… deep in your heart, you did what you had to do. Saying it’s easy..even when you know, it is time, really is not true. Don’t ever think you did the wrong thing. You knew when. hard as it is, and your love for your pet, takes you where it hurts. You gave so much love to Charlie, never….NEVER. second guess yourself. I believe he had extra years to live, because you cared…There is a time, when you make a hard choice….but Brenda. non live for ever, and you gave Charlie quite a bit more time, ( I’m sorry to say) than others may have. .He had the best MOM in the world, please don’t be sad……………

  10. Over the last 30 years, I’ve been owned by eight beautiful, loving kitties. Even when they were in the prime of their lives, the thought of their “end” would occasionally creep across my mind. Eventually, the end did come. The ironic thing about giving pets the best in health care, is that they live long enough to develop long-term chronic illnesses. One of my babies developed cancer, one developed kidney disease, one had degenerative spine disease, and one had diabetes where I had to inject daily doses of insulin. I feel like I didn’t do right by any of them. Did I deprive them of life by putting them down too soon, or did I let them suffer unnecessarily? Given hindsight, I think I let them linger too long. When your grief softens a bit, I believe you will realize that your maternal instincts directed you to do the right thing at the right time.

  11. Brenda, I haven’t read your blog in few days and I thought about you especially today; thought I needed to check in on you my friend.My heart goes out for you and the reason foryour deep grief. The time comes when we have done all we can humanly do for our furbabies. Whether we make that decision about prolonging their pain to ease our own pain of losing them sooner, or do we wait too long and they suffer more. You loved him too much to wait for that time when he would agonize for days or weeks. You loved Charlie so deeply you gave him a home, a special diet,got up at all hours of the night to take him outside, provided him with the best of Vet care, and acupunture therapy. You had him by your side continually and he knew how much he mattered and how deeply you loved him. There may be doubts when some make that choice, but never doubt Your decision; it was the right one because you loved him too much to do otherwise. I will be thinking of you and my prayers are with you for comfort as you go through this sad time.

  12. Hi Brenda,
    I empathize with you. I’ve been there 10 times in my lifetime. 11 is on the horizon. My Bichon Lily will be 18 on August 1st. I know that day is coming again sooner than later. I know I have her on borrowed time now. It’s not an easy decision to make. I remember my very first cat, Suki. My vet said I would know when it was time. I always remember her saying that each time I’ve had to make the decision. She was right. With each one I knew it was time. It’s never, ever an easy decision. In fact, for me, it gets harder each time. You loved Charlie with all your heart. You made your decision out of love, not on a whim. Second guessing yourself is part of the grieving process. You did right by Charlie. You made a very difficult and unselfish decision when the time was right. You loved him and he loved you. One day at a time. Take care. Margie

  13. The throws of grief has a way of clouding clear thinking. You loved him and did all things for him with the intent of love. He knows and appreciates that and wants you to have that same love and grace with yourself. On a side note, I still truly feel something “good” is right around the corner for you. I don’t know what it is, but it’s a gift I have had since a child and am compelled to let you know.

  14. Brenda,
    Please quit beating yourself up. It was the right thing to do. IT WAS RIGHT. Charlie is up in heaven thanking you. And he’s with his sister.

  15. Brenda. I’m from Ontario, Canada and just started following your blog a few weeks ago although I had read many of your past posts and have immensely enjoyed them. Real Estate here is the same as your area, homes selling way over asking price. Our grown children cannot afford to get out of their very expensive basement apartments in Toronto. I feel for you as you search for an affordable condo. On the other topic of your sweet Charlie, we had our beautiful Molly put down a year ago and I too have wrestled with grief and guilt. It was not confirmed that she had a mass in her stomach but she was so very very sick my husband and I chose to end it rather than put her through more tests. I still wonder if we made the decision too soon and it makes me want to cry. I miss her so very much. I have no magic words that will put your mind at ease other than as women, our “mother instinct” kicks in for our fur babies just as they would for our human babies. Not saying that we would put our kids “down” but our sense of what our babies need is always there. I believe that while your head may be saying you murdered him, when it came to the time, your instinct guided you in what he needed. You made the decision that was best for him just as I believe I did for Molly. Second guessing ourselves is human nature, but trust your “mother instinct” was there helping you make the right decision. Praying for you, Maggie

  16. Losing a beloved animal is hard . Many times the relationship you share with a dog or cat is stronger than your human relationships. You don’t have tiffs with them; they never say things that hurt your feelings and they love you so much. Euthanizing a suffering animal is kinder than insisting they continue to live despite their frail condition because you will feelost without them. You know you went above and beyond what most people would do for a dog in his condition. Your guilt is part of the grieving process. When someone we love dies, it is natural to find all the ways we failed them, rather than counting the ways we gave comfort and care. There are many people who wish we could offer them a gentle end to painful lives that drag on and on because we don’t offer assisted death. You are going to grieve and you will feel sad. You let poor sick Charlie go, and that was the ultimate act of love.

  17. tears are streaming here. I can find no words good enough to comfort you.
    just KNOW that you are loved by all of us and that you did what you thought was best when you did it. he had no words to tell you how bad he felt. it may have been far worse than you could ever guess.
    and you are NOT a murderer. you are just in DEEP GRIEF. and only time will ease that.
    just Time. XO

  18. It does not seem right for animals to suffer long…and most likely at his age, his days were not to be a lot longer. You loved him and wanted him not to suffer anymore. This is indeed the hardest part of owning a pet however…so often one has to make that choice. I hope you feel better soon…and you DID go much farther than many pet owners in trying to help him be better!!

  19. I was just looking at Charlie’s picture and his names: Charlie Ross, and thought what a great name Ross would make for a dog. I’ve often wondered how you named Charlie and Abi Rose. I know you miss the little guy so much that sometimes you can hardly breathe, but please, please know you did the right thing. And know too we are all cheering you on in your pursuit of finding a new place. ❤️

  20. My heart aches with you. All pet owners, one time or another, have to make tough decisions concerning our pets. I know the first dog I owned as an adult, was 13 years old, deaf, and could see very little. One day it came to me that he was suffering and only surviving because of me. I told my mother I was going to have him put to sleep, hoping she would say no. She said it was past time and it was the right thing to do.
    I was only thinking of myself and it was the best thing for him. I realized every one else knew it was time but I didn’t want to let him go. Yes, we love our sweet pets so much that we have to let them go.
    So there are no words to make you feel better but you are not alone. Let time make your grief and sadness easier to handle. We are here and we care about you.
    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.
    Hugs to you, Brenda❤️

  21. Brenda, you absolutely did the right thing and Charlie was counting on you. His quality of life was deteriorating. I’m sure your vet was on board with your decision. Charlie is with sweet Abi now. You loved them both with all your heart ❤️ and you gave them the best care. Difficult as it was, you made the right decision. Ivy needs you now and in her own way is missing Charlie, too. Hold tight to all the beautiful memories and remember how blessed you three were. Hugs, Elaine

  22. Brenda, my heart aches for you. You absolutely did the right thing by Charlie, he was suffering and was not going to get better. I know you feel guilty, I had to put two of my dogs to “sleep” and felt so guilty for a long time! It gets easier as time goes by so try to keep your mind busy on other things like Ivy and looking for a new place to live! You are in my prayers!

  23. Brenda, I read your blog all the time and have for several years and I always enjoy it for many reasons; in particular the way you have made such a cosy little home for yourself and your pups and kitty. I love your patio garden; it is so amazing because you have made it into a real garden–with your pots and water and your roses and various other thingsW,e have a large deck and my husband and I have many pots andtomatoes and barrels and birdbaths and etc. but I always draw inspiration from your patio.
    I grieve for you that you are so sad with the loss of your dear little dog and I just want you to know that I think I understand how you are feeling. We are cat people and never had dogs, but our cats were like our children. They were all brought home as strays by our children.
    In any event we took good care of them and they all lived to be somewhere between 12 and 15 years old and usually died with kidney failure which is common in older cats. But I would notice that sometimes one of the cats would be having such a hard time getting comfortable, got to where they couldn’t jump up on the bed or the sofa and lot their appetites. Ultimately after trips to the vet we would put them to sleep because they seemed to be suffering.
    They were not necessasarily suffering horribly on the day we did take them to be put down but were so miserable although they couldn’t say so, that I felt I was being cruel to keep them because I didn’t want to lose them. I was with each one over the years as they took their last breath and it broke my heart, but I really felt that although I was suffering for them, they were at peace. Don’t torture yourself with feelings that you killed Charlie. You did everything you could for him and finally letting him go is a testament to how much you loved him and he knew that.
    There are challenging times in life when we have to make choices and the choice is difficult because of the consequences. But you are an intelligent person and even though you have some doubt in your mind as to whether you made the right choice deep down you probably know that you did make the right choice for Charlie because he couldn’t speak for himself and tell you how bad he felt. I hope that your grief will begin to ease as the days go by.
    I do not have a website, am not a blogger in the true sense of the word; I just enjoy reading all the different blogs about decorating and cooking and antiquing and gardening. I think this is the first time I have ever written anyone, so I am not even sure that you will get this comment. I hope you do, and I also hope your days will be better and better. Sincerely, Mary Lynn from OKC.

  24. With every dog, I go through this. Did I murder them? Was it too soon? And hindsight later shows me that I always wait too long. I always think they will slip peacefully away when it’s time, but they never do. They hang on. For us. It’s our job to let them go, let them know it’s ok not to suffer any more. I cry as I write this, I miss my boys I lost at the end of January, and first part of February. But I know they are no longer suffering, I’m not making them suffer so I can have one more day or week. You did the right thing Brenda. You give your pets the best lives. Charlie did not suffer, gasping for air in his last days. Let the grief wash over you. But know you did the right thing and guarded that precious little boy until the end, and helped him go peacefully. He’s with Abi now, no longer in pain. Take care dear Brenda, be gentle on yourself.

  25. May God help you find peace in accepting that Charlie is at peace. You need to keep searching for the right home for you and Ivy. You deserve comfort and security. But it is up to you to find it. My prayers are with you.

  26. Brenda all those things you are feeling are just part of grief. Some days you can barely catch your breath from how it hurts. I know that feeling all too well. Been down this road you are on in grief with my past fur babies. It hurts more than anything you can imagine. I am sorry you have to feel this way. As you said yourself if we live and love we will have loss and pain all part of the circle of life. I am glad you have the distraction of looking for a new place. That will be a good distraction from your grief process. Like I have said before Time does not take that loss away but it does have a way of making it more bearable. Wishing you peace.

  27. Oh, Brenda we all understand exactly how you feel. Baby steps and one day a time is what I can offer. Don’t put off looking for a condo but don’t feel that it has to happen right away. In other words don’t rush the process let it work itself out because it will.
    Gentle hugs!

  28. I am so sorry that you are experiencing such overwhelming grief about Charlie, but it is not surprising considering how much you LOVED him. Your LOVE for him is what led to your decision. Your grief will abate with time, but your LOVE never will.

  29. My thought when I read your post about helping Charlie was, “bless her for having the courage to help him be peaceful, in spite of her feelings”.
    I’ve had to do this several times, and was fortunate enough to have a vet who responded honestly when I asked, “what would you do if this was your pet?” .
    Our hearts are with you in your grief.

  30. Here are some things that I have done in the past when my dearly beloved pets have passed on.
    Write in a journal all of the things that you want and need to say to Charlie.
    Have a painting done from a picture that you have of him. The photo above would make a beautiful painting.
    Create a shadow box with things to remember him by and hanging it on your wall.
    Plant flowers or a tree in Charlie’s memory.
    Be creative. You knew Charlie so well. And in creating something beautiful in his memory, you will be helping yourself in your grieving. And don’t forget to tell God all of your thoughts. He is the ultimate healer, and He will help you through your grieving.
    God Bless

  31. Oh Brenda, you did the right and kind thing for Charlie. For though he was still his sweet, kind self, if he couldn’t run and jump and play and do all the things that make a pup a pup, quality of life suffers. The vet would likely have discouraged you from taking that step if the vet thought it wasn’t the right decision. So many times I think people keep pets beyond any quality of life because they just don’t want to let them go. You loved Charlie so much, and you didn’t help him pass because you were tired of caring for an aging pup. You did it because watching Charlie at that time, you knew it was the right thing to do. Wishing you peace and sending you love.

  32. I think we’ve all been there. Remember, dogs don’t think or understand the way we do. Find comfort in that. You’ve kept him going far longer that most would have. I find it merciful. Plus there’s so much pain a dog can feel that humans don’t even know about. So with his age and his condition, Brenda, you did the right thing. It doesn’t make it easier, but please find comfort in the fact that he is now rejoicing without pain.

  33. Oh Brenda, you say exactly what I think for a mounth; my little dog is dead the 6 of june and I have call the veterany to stop her life (she was near 13).
    And I say in myself, all days, that I murdered her.
    Sorry for my bad language.
    I am a “fan” of your blog.

  34. I’m so sorry, but I too still yet cry for my sweet Matt a 14 yr old Bassett. I had just retired and he got sick, I cooked 3 meals a day and made silk balls trying to put weight back on him. I held him oh so close that day until he was gone. That was the worst day ever. That was 7 years ago and still miss him so much. . .

  35. You express so clearly how I felt in the months following the death of my Buddy. I felt I murdered him. I kept saying if I didn’t make the decision to put him down, he’d be here still. Did I do the right thing, should I have waited? Yet, my head said, he was suffering, he wasn’t living the life he was accustomed to. My vet said “I gave him a gift by freeing him from pain and suffering”. I would burst into heart rending tears and accusations against myself.
    It has subsided. He will always be my Buddy dog but the intense grief has passed. We were able to rescue another dog a couple of days ago. He’s 4 years old and may have been abused. He’s anxious and looking for love and approval. I can give him that and I can love him for the dog he is. Buddy will forever be our love but Buster will fill a spot for us as we fill a spot for him. Grief is a hard journey.

  36. NO! You DID NOT do the wrong thing! You did the MERCIFUL thing! You eased your little guy into painless peace in the ultimate unselfish act. You considered the fact that life would only become more uncomfortable for him as time went on. You put HIS needs before your own. Many people do the opposite. Not letting go soon enough gives them the comfort of extra hours, but those are filled with pain for the pet. It’s better to wonder “too soon?” than “too late?”
    I’m one of those who believes we will meet our pets again in “a place without sorrow or tears,” and I don’t care one bit what some say about animals “not having a soul” or being “allowed into heaven because it’s only for people!” And neither should you, dear Brenda!

  37. Im so sorry your having such a hard time Brenda. Been there many times myself. My vet says if the dog is always coughing they are very uncomfortable and that is suffering. Charlie lived a good long life in a loving home. Hard decision but you did what was best for Charlie and not yourself
    That’s a good pet owner
    Try not too be so hard on yourself. What you did was hard and you did it out of love for Charlie.

  38. You’re grief is what is making you question your decision. You absolutely did the right thing for your beloved Charlie. I would suggest that we need to rethink not letting people die peacefully instead of suffering horribly as so many do. Why are we so caring with our sweet animals and allow them to die peacefully with us at their side to avoid living with suffering and horrible quality of life, yet we make people suffer greatly and die without dignity and often times such a poor quality of life? There is nothing loving about allowing someone we love (animal or people) to suffer. I am so sorry for your loss.

    1. Exactly! I understand why we don’t euthanize people but it’s such a shame that so many have to bear such agony and humiliation simply because their hearts just won’t stop beating. As much as it hurts, I’m so glad that we can spare our precious pets the agony of waiting in pain for their hearts to stop. I don’t think there’s one of us who doesn’t feel guilt, trying to believe we could have done more, but when it’s time we can’t make it better. We just have to do the right thing, the loving thing. It’s called bravery.

  39. If only animals could talk to let you know how they feel would be nice but you did the right thing for your Charlie you did not let him suffer. It so hard to let our animals go but for me i believe i will see my pets again. Please take care Life is about one day at a time

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