I should not be surprised, I suppose, that the difficult decision to euthanize our beloved dog coincided with a decision by my doctor and me to try a different anti-depressant. Changing medication meant that I had to taper off the first, and I was at the lowest dose when we learned that our dog was suffering from an inoperable heart tumor that had already closed his right ventricle.
Though grief and depression are not the same, they make a nasty combination. I didn’t think it was possible to feel more hopeless than I did – until I watched our sweet dog take his last breath.
At a particularly low point last night, as I tried to sleep in the same bed that I had finally allowed him to occupy the night before because he seemed so miserable, I realized sleep would not come. I got up and grabbed a journal to write down all of my feelings of anger and sadness.
I have a few empty journals that I’ve received as gifts over time, and I took one of those from my nightstand, certain that I could fill the entire span of its empty pages with my despair.
On the front page was this message:
The journal was a gift from a student I had at least 7 years ago. In one of my darkest moments, my student’s message reminded me that there is still hope and good in the world and I get to see it in my classroom every day.