Car keys in my left hand and several sleeping pills in my right, I sat in an oversized chair in the brightly lit bedroom that I shared with my husband of four years.
Numb, I reached for a glass of room-temperature water that sat on the end table beside me. Meant to wash down the tiny blue pills, I used it to quench my very dry mouth instead.
I was about to end it all…for good.
I planned to slip into my garage, plant myself in my silver Chevy Tracker, put on my favorite Over the Rhine song and let the medication do its magic as I slipped into a final slumber, car exhaust filling my lungs.
Just as I lifted the pills to my lips, the tippy tapping of long-nailed dog paws on our hardwood floor flooded my ears. Charlotte, my 13-year-old walker hound, came trotting into the room, her long legs carrying her quickly and causing her dog tags to make a pleasant chime as she entered.
She came and rested her head on my knee as if asking for scratches on her floppy hound ears. As I massaged her head, I thought back to the first time I heard those tippy tap toes on my hardwood floor – just a day or so after her previous owner, Amber, committed suicide in the exact fashion I was entertaining in that moment.
I remembered how I’d made Charlotte a silent promise to always be there for her so she’d never have to experience the pain of losing someone so close to her again. Yet there I was, pills in hand, ready to fire up my car’s engine and do it to her all over again.
Did my word mean nothing?
Silent or not, I’d made a promise to this four-legged creature that I was about to break. She’d lose someone close to her and be left wondering why her person was there one moment and gone forever the next.
I knew taking my life would be hard for all my loved ones to understand, but it was Charlotte’s possible confusion that moved through my body in that instance.
A canine’s life is short compared to that of her human companion and I couldn’t imagine breaking her heart yet again.
She sighed as my scratches reached the underside of her chin. Not wanting to abandon her, I leaned over and whispered, “I’m here for you forever, girl.”
With that I knew this brown and white pooch had saved my life.
While she has long passed, I still breathe today and am forever grateful for those tippy tap toes.