When I was thirteen years old, my parents decided it was time to add a new member to our family. I remember it was a sunny Saturday when a 30-day old Labrador Retriever came through the door carried by my mother to change our lives forever. We decided to call him Maylo (just as Milo from The Mask, but with a cooler name 😉)
I knew that the one who spent most of the time with him during his first days would forge a strong bond with him. So, as soon as he arrived, I took my mattress and decided to sleep with him in our living room for the first couple days.
When I think about him and those days, I always get a smile on my face. We used to play a lot. Running all around my house, up and down the stairs, or sometimes it was just the two of us lying on my bed watching a movie and having some ice cream (he loved ice cream). As the years passed by, he no longer could go up the stairs to sleep on our bedrooms, so I used to carry him up the stairs every night so he could still sleep with us.
I’m convinced that Maylo helped me turn into the man I am today. He taught me about empathy, about love, about the value of not only being there in the good times, but also in the bad ones. We were inseparable.
Until the time came for me to move out of my parents’ home. When something changes in your life, that makes it impossible to keep the same routine, you have to make an effort to build that routine into your new life. I wouldn’t. I stopped seeing Maylo everyday and I only saw him when I visited my parents’ home.
His life changed as well. There was no one to take him up the stairs every night, so he now slept alone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t text me to tell me how he felt about not seeing me, and my new routine did not include lots of visits.
Now I was seeing him 10% of the time I used to see him before, and I always told myself that I would save this one day to spend 24 hours by his side, just the two of us.
I absolutely failed him. When he got sick, my parents where the ones who took him to the vet. He needed an X-ray? My parents did. Buy some meds? My parents did. Need for special food? My parents. I was so submerged in my own world, that I would not make time for one of the most important beings in my life. And I kept telling myself about that whole day I would get to spend with him when everything cooled down.
Guess what? I never fulfilled my promise. There was always something “more important” that I don’t even remember now.
Until the day came my mother called me and told me they were at the vet, Maylo was in such a bad shape that the best way to end his torment was to sacrifice him. I called my sister, met her and got to the vet as soon as we could. I’ll spare you the details, but I was by his side till the very end. We missed so much time together; I was not going to miss another second.
As life was running out of him, we stared at each other, and all I could think of was “I am so sorry for not being there”. Then a particular day flashed before my eyes. A day when we got up together, had breakfast together, played together, spent the evening together, just the two of us on a field looking at the sky together, and finally went to bed together. The day I never got to spend with him because I always had something “more important” to do. That’s a burden I will carry with me for the rest of my life.
Your heart already knows what you hold most dear; just make sure you spend most of your time on those things. Make time for the important.
An important thing for me is writing. It’s something I wanted to do for years, and never got the time because there was always something “more important”. Thank you Maylo for showing me what really matters. I won’t make that mistake again. This blog is dedicated to you. I love you.