A very large reason I write this blog is to air my feelings and get them out of the way. It seems like a good venue to say what I think; it's fairly anonymous, I try to be constructive, and most of what I'm thinking turns out with a happy ending for myself and a tasty recipe for you. So imagine how frumpy I feel that two of my last three posts have dealt with death, aging, and the downsides of change. Usually, I am struck by some amazing dietary discovery or awed at the power of maternal relationships, perhaps wowed by some newly published peice of genius. Recently though, I've been overcome by the effect one little dog had on my life. I'd like to be able to leave it at my last post, one of my final thoughts being that 'he would love me fiercely until his end'...but I can't. I feel like I owe him more than that. I feel like I owe him one last goodbye in a very public way. Right here. Right now.
My family and I said goodbye to my long time friend on Thursday, February 28. The previous evening, my husband and I had made the decision to call the in-home euthanist, we would have her conduct the procedure on Friday. However, the night of February 27 was a terrible one for the little guy. He couldn't lay down without coughing. He couldn't jump on the bed. He couldn't stand without gagging. Everyone told me I would know when it was time and no more than 30 minutes into our regular bedtime routine, I did. We made it through the night before I said it to the husband, "if she can come today, I think we should have her come. Tomorrow is too long for him." And just like that, the end was scheduled. Scheduling the moment your loved one will die; when it's put like that it sounds barbaric. In reality, it was anything but.
I arranged for my dear friend, Megan, to take the girls to dance class. I didn't believe they needed to watch him pass away. They needed to hear what was going to happen, to understand he wouldn't be there when they came home, and to hug him one last time- to say goodbye. Understandably, it was a rough day for them at school and the ride home was filled with tears. I explained why I wouldn't be taking them to dance and that 'Momo', as she's been known since their birth, really wanted to be part of their day and help us out. They understood that much. They hugged Sparty one last time, scratched his ears, and told him they loved him before they headed out the door- keeping the rest of their day as normal as possible.
Nancy, anesthesioligist by morning- in home euthanist by afternoon; she promised to make our needs work with her schedule and arrived at our home at 3:30pm on the dot. What a human being, to be able to do this work everyday. She remembered him from the vet's office, she shared in our heartbreak, and she explained how things would proceed. We would hold him in a blanket, scratch his ears, and she would adminster a sedative to help him relax, help him not be afraid. She would wait outside for about 10 minutes; we would have the time to say goodbye. He would have time for the sedative to go to work and then it would happen. She would administer the chemical that would end his pain and suffering, that would end our time with him. It would take about one minute and he would be free to run and jump once more. Of all the woulds that were about to happen, I kept telling myself that jumping and running were the woulds that really mattered.
Since being diagnosed with cancer, Sparty did not enjoy being held like he used to. There was a time when he would eagerly jump, literally, into our open arms. That hadn't happened in quite some time. Even picking him up to place him gently on the bed caused him discomfort and he often shied away, until he realized he couldn't do it on his own. But this time, when I came for him with one of his favorite fleece blankets he stood patiently, looking at me with those chocolate brown eyes filled with love and understanding. I almost felt he was inviting me to help him, to carry him through just a few more moments while wrapped in my embrace. He didn't squirm when we sat down. He got up once after the sedative, he appeared to feel he was going to throw up- which Nancy said was common. But he was almost eager to settle into my arms once more and didn't leave me again until Nancy carried him out the door.
I remember holding him. I remember Nancy taking him from me. I remember one last look in his eyes. And then I was doubled over, hanging off the couch, screaming. The husband, Kevin, must have let Nancy out and then returned to pull me into a hug. We sat and hugged and cried and remembered.
I've never been able to completely wrap my mind around death. One day, your love is here and you are happy. The next day, there is a massive and gaping whole in your heart and soul- your loved one never again to be seen on this side of heaven's doors. It makes so little sense.
In the time since Sparty's passing, his ashes have been returned; we will bury him under the tree where he used to bark at the birds. The girls asked that we plant some blue flowers for him on his birthday, which is their birthday as well. They feel that blue was probably his favorite color and that he might just like some new flowers in our garden. We also learned that his third litter-mate, Brady- a beautiful blue IG, is currently in kidney failure. Brady still lives in Michigan with the breeders, Dick and Marilyn and we've remained quite close over the years. For them, there has been too much loss in so little time. Fortunately, we have the souls of 6 year olds living under our roof to help shed light on what's really happening.
When discussion turned to Brady's untimely health problems, Izzy proudly proclaimed with a big toothless smile, "Well, at least Sparty will be in heaven so they can play together!" And I thought, That's it! Yes- Sparty is there waiting for his brother...what a beautiful way to see it. So there it is, an explanation for the eternal mystery. Maybe death isn't so hard to understand after all, maybe it's just one of us going ahead to wait for another that we love. And with that, I wiped one more tear. But this time, it was a tear that saw the beauty only my child could show me. My comfort and clarity is found and tomorrow will be that much easier than today.
So goodbye my dear friend, my best buddy, my fuzzy little guy. Thank you for bringing me comfort, may you bring that same joy to another as you wait for me on the other side.