Friday Fictioneers–I Shall Die of Having Lived

Posted: April 30, 2014 in Friday Fictioneers
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Friday Fictioneers = a complete story = 1 photo + 100 words = imagination run wild = so much fun = additction

Copyright Renee Heath

Copyright Renee Heath


I Shall Die of Having Lived*

She’s dying.

I steel myself to take that last step to help her end it. Recalling the years together (never enough), memories of all we’ve shared play through my mind. I touch her gently.

“You know I’ll miss you every day and life won’t be the same without you. But I can’t let you suffer any longer.”

She looks at me mutely with those beautiful eyes (understandingly , I think); tries to move. I turn my head, my eyes flooding with tears.

“OK, it’s time. “

“Do you want to leave?”

“No, I’ll stay with her,” I tell the vet.



*”I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.” ~Willa Cather    So may we all.


I’ll be doing a bit of traveling and celebrating with a friend over the next several days, so I won’t be as timely with my reading.  I know you’ll all survive without a problem, but I didn’t want you to think I was neglecting you.  🙂

  1. sweetness, with a twist…. we love our pets.

  2. I had to have one of my cats put down a few months ago. I still miss him. I really felt the emotion in this – although you very cleverly led me astray until the very last word.

    • Exactly my evil intention, Claire. Bwaaaaaahhhhh! Since my “pet” is the horse you see in my gravatar and she’s in Wyoming year-round, it’s a bit different. She’s now 30 and since her teeth aren’t good, she wouldn’t do well out on the range all winter. But it’s expensive to pay someone to keep her, which my Dad’s done for some years. So I suggested we offer her, free, to the people who’ve been keeping her, as they love her, too, and the alternative would be to have her put down. They agreed, so we’re all happy, although I’ll miss her when she has to be put down.


  3. that’s the saddest moment ever… Have a great time while traveling, maybe you can catch some nice things with your cam :o)

    • I’m sure I’ll find something. This isn’t a long trip, but my friend is finishing her doctorate in music and I’m going to attend the performance that’s part of passing and also party with her afterwards and catch up a bit the next day. But my camera is always ready for photos. 🙂


  4. wmqcolby says:

    I hated it when my dog, Max, died. A long time ago when I was a kid, sure, but it was sad nevertheless. Great story, Janet! Thanks.

  5. You build up the tension so nicely.. and of course the vet came as a surprise (and strangely enough a relief).. but parting with a pet this way is compassionate and tough.

    • Björn, it’s definitely better than if it were a human, but it’s difficult with pets as well. I know many people don’t like to face this decision, but there comes a point at which love and compassion dictate that you do what’s best for the pet.


  6. Ah, you got me there…never easy to say goodbye.

  7. This literally brought tears to my eyes, as your writing usually does. I had to put my Golden down just over two years ago, and I still haven’t gotten used to her absence. I still refuse to relive that event as well. It’s strange because this morning, before I saw the prompt, I sincerely considered writing about putting my girl down. So, I’m really glad your story popped first into my reader, so I was able to read how you recounted the experience with so much depth in emotion. My heart truly goes out to you, as it takes profound strength to take that burden upon yourself for the sake of your best friend. Beautiful story, and a very fitting and expansive quote, Janet.

    • Hmmm, I used to be known for my happy endings. Perhaps I’ve gone too far the other way. 🙂 I haven’t ever had a pet that needed to be put down, as we didn’t have pets growing up, although I did have a horse for a time, but had to sell him when I got out of college. We had several rescue pit bulls before we moved to our rental house, which doesn’t allow pets, but all the dogs found homes, either foster or forever, so that was good. I think of how I’ll feel when my horse (which, as I explained in an earlier comment) is now someone else’s, will have to be put down and channeled that into a dog. Thanks, Adelie, and I’m sorry for your loss.


  8. elmowrites says:

    I have to say I got it as soon as I read beautiful eyes, although I couldn’t say exactly why. I liked it, though, and it made me wonder (as pet euthanasia always does) how we are able to be so humane to animals, but not to humans. Enjoy yours travels – the stories will keep, or indeed manage perfectly well without your reading, just this once!

    • I wonder the same. Why are we so much more humane to animals, while our human loved ones suffer terribly. I understand that at least one country allows a petition for those in terminal, painful, circumstances.

    • Jen, I know everyone will survive without me reading and commenting, but since I usually do, I don’t want someone to think s/he is being ignored. I believe that animals and humans end-of-life issues are different, but that’s a discussion for another time and place. Even when alive, I think people often treat pets better than friends, although they often also treat them badly by not training them. Again, another topic and day. Glad you liked the story, even if you guessed the ending. I’ve done that before and don’t always know why.


  9. […] Brigitte, LouAnn Jen, Janet, Carrie, Mary Susan, Amy, […]

  10. Sandra says:

    Oh Janet, you shouldn’t get me started down this path. Been there more times than I care to remember, which is one of the reasons why we’re an animal-free zone currently. Beautifully done.

  11. I know this sad feeling. Poignant take on the prompt, Janet.

  12. A touching story. I like the badge you created too.

  13. high five and raspberries says:

    Like many of the others who have commented I have been down that path. We are soon going to be faced with it again, you prepare for it ( you think foolishly ) but doing what is best for a beloved pet is not an easy decision . Enjoy your travels,you will be missed.

    • No, it’s not an easy decision. I haven’t had to face it myself but one of my sisters-in-law did recently. I think when the pet is suffering, love dictates not allowing that to continue, but when that point is reached is difficult to say.

      As for the travels, I’ll only be gone a couple days, so you won’t even know I’m gone. But that’s much appreciated.


  14. Very cleverly done – good job it wasn’t a human, though we all have our views! You really got the twist and emotion in, I must say.

    • Thanks, Hamish. I went through about three different story scenarios, two of which had to do with dogs. Not sure why, but I’m glad it worked. I’m glad it wasn’t a human, too. No matter the views, it’s a terrible situation.


  15. Indira says:

    Very sad but great story. We can’t see our dear one suffering.

  16. M-R says:

    Not only is this clever (as always), but entirely representative of life. And death. And loss. You’re VERY good at this, Janet!

  17. misskzebra says:

    I remember not particularly understanding how people could be so attached to their pets, until my parents bought an African Grey. In the end, I went to university, and we had to give her away to a home that would be able to give her the attention that she needed. I still miss her.

  18. Dear Janet,

    This takes me back almost twenty years ago to when I had to put down the dog we’d had for 18 years. Ginger was born in our house a few months before I gave birth to our first son so she never knew another owner. It was a hard thing to do and I still get weepy thinking about it. Nicely done.



  19. As everyone else said, it’s hard hard hard to lose a fuzzy friend. You did a great job with the build up on this and I felt every minute of the end.

  20. Very touching. I knew it was coming, yet it was still moving.

  21. Jan Brown says:

    So sad–but with a clever twist ending. I read about your horse in the comments and wish her–and you–well.

    Have fun celebrating and listening to music 🙂

  22. Moving piece. Definitely an animal lover.

  23. Ankita says:

    Very touching!

  24. A very moving story with a lovely twist at the end

  25. Caerlynn Nash says:

    Been there! Done that! Sad days indeed. Great telling of the moment!

  26. Judah First says:

    That was very sad, though I have to admit to some relief that this wasn’t a spouse or some person being put down. I don’t mean to sound mean or uncaring (it will deeply wound me when one of my kitties goes), but I know that I should outlive my cats (barring an unforeseen accident or illness), and for a moment in the story, I was afraid the ‘person’ I thought was going to die was not able to communicate a desire to live! That scared me! lol

    Good story – you had me guessing!

    • The classic FF misdirect. 🙂 I’m glad it worked so well. And you don’t sound mean and uncaring. I love animals, but they’re not people (which could be good or bad, depending upon the person.)


      • Judah First says:

        You wrote:

        ” I love animals, but they’re not people (which could be good or bad, depending upon the person.)”

        SO true! LOL

  27. draliman says:

    Very sad and moving. I was sure it was a husband or wife until the ending but it’s so sad just the same to lose a beloved pet.

  28. I’m not a pet owner but i have friends who are and I feel their pain every time they go through this.

  29. What a painful ending! You surprised me with that last line. It completely changed the story. Such a sad and sweet tale. You took me back to when I made the difficult choice for my sweet doggie. Well done, Janet!

  30. Not sure about the brackets, but other than that, a well told story with a gentle and somewhat unexpected finish!

  31. rgayer55 says:

    I recently finished a book entitled “I thought you were dead” by Pete Nelson. In it, the main characater can communicate with his dog, Stella. There comes a point where age catches up with her and she asks him to take her to the vet to be put down. It’s a very emotional chapter–and so is this. Well done, Janet.

    • Happy Friday morning, Russ, although because I’m out of town it and off my routine it feels like Saturday, and thanks. It’s just as well pets can’t talk, for a variety of reasons. 🙂


  32. plaridel says:

    a very touching story. in a few words, you have conveyed the raw emotions that death brings.

  33. Yes. Here in the UK, euthanasia is bound and constricted by laws where, if you allow a pet to suffer unnecessarily by prolonging its life, you break the law, whereas if you try to help a human end their suffering, you break the law. Crazy. Very well written, by the way. The twist is excellent.

  34. Gulp. This is beautiful, Janet. I still remember saying goodbye to our sweet, 15 yo girl… now when I look at our lab (14 this year), I can’t bear to go through it again. It’s so unfair that we have so little time with them, and they bring so much to our lives… I should add, right to the end, all I could think of was my Mom. Poignant, powerful, moving.

    • Thanks, Dawn. Of course the misdirect was intentional, so I’m glad it worked, although it obviously brought sadness to mind. The shorter-than-human life span is one of the biggest downsides of pet ownership, isn’t it? But the “much” that they provide offsets and surpasses that.


  35. Liz Young says:

    I have buried several animals over the years and our present cat is aging fast. This story summed up those feelings perfectly.

  36. elappleby says:

    I’m so bad, I’m afraid I smiled when I realised it was a pet. Blame my upbringing on a farm for my lack of empathy. I did cry when my childhood dog died though, so I’m not completely heartless! Beautifully written though.

    • Living on a farm does make a difference, el. Farm animals aren’t pets, even dogs generally. They’re working animals for the most part and although loved, sentimentality is usually not present in the same way as in this story. Glad you liked the story, though, and hope you enjoy the weekend.


  37. Amy Reese says:

    The love of an animal is so pure! I got that it was an animal most probably as I read through it. Beautiful, Janet!

    • Thanks, Amy. I’m happy you liked it. I’m slowly working my way through stories now that I’m back from my mini-trip. But it’s only Friday, so I still have time. 🙂 Have a great weekend.


  38. Alice Audrey says:

    You got me with the last line. I didn’t see it coming at all. 🙂

  39. brainsnorts says:

    pet or human, either way, this feels like a subject you’ve written about more than once. or is that my imagination? i’m not calling it repetitive. just perhaps important to you.

  40. Sun says:

    you got me. at first glance, i thought, oh no…hospice or something. but just the same, saying goodbye to a family pet – devastating! my part pit bull dog in the early years of her life was a wonderful pet. when she got older i guess got senile and started to bite. had to finally put her to sleep. sigh.
    great story, Janet.

    • Thanks, Sun. I’m always glad when misdirection works but even happier when the story does, too. We fostered several pit bulls and they were such lovely and loving dogs. So sorry about yours.


  41. Adam Ickes says:

    This is touching, Janet. Reminds me of the last dog we had to put down, and the one we may have to put down in the near future. He’s approaching the end of his breed’s expected lifespan and it’s definitely showing. Never an easy thing, but it’s better than allowing them to suffer needlessly.

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