A little over two years ago, a fire destroyed the building where I was renting an apartment. Fortunately, no one was injured, and the landlord soon placed everyone who lived in the building in a new home. All we lost, it seemed at the time, was “stuff.” We all felt very lucky, because stuff is easily replaced.
Sadly, the move proved to be the undoing of my beloved 17-year-old dog, Roscoe. Nearly blind and too arthritic to negotiate stairs, he was unable to acclimate to his new surroundings, which were on the second floor. He became horribly confused and terrified of being left alone. He spent every night wandering and whimpering, and no amount of comforting could calm him down.
I tried for three weeks to convince myself that Roscoe could get better — that he just needed some time to adjust. But as his condition continued to worsen, it became obvious to me that his life had become intolerable. Finally, I realized that I had no choice but to let him go.
Two days later, the vet came to my home and euthanized Roscoe as I sat on the floor holding and whispering to him. He felt no pain. He just closed his eyes and went peacefully to sleep. For him, it was a good death. But it was one of the most difficult and painful things I ever did.
The next day, alone in my apartment, I held a solitary memorial for my best friend of nearly 12 years. As I lit candles and arranged pictures of Roscoe on the lone table I had salvaged from the fire, Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love” was the song I played. To me, it was a perfect eulogy for a friend I loved so much I was willing to do anything for him, even help him die.
Roscoe was a rescue. I adopted him when he was 6 years old from the animal shelter, after the authorities took him from his former owner, who had nearly starved him to death. Humans had treated him horribly for years, yet he was a happy dog. He was grateful for every morsel of kindness I gave him. And I gave him a lot.
Maybe that’s why these lyrics from Adele’s song meant so much to me after he died.
I could make you happy
Make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends
Of the Earth for you
To make you feel my love
Written by Bob Dylan, “Make You Feel My Love,” is a love song. But love is, after all, the wellspring of compassion, and empathy and grief. When you have lost or are about to lose someone you love, experiencing the depth of your love and expressing it aloud is often one of the most healing things you can do.
Watch Adele perform “Make You Feel My Love” in the video below. You can also read the lyrics here.