This beautiful girl…
Two weeks ago today, my dog died.
Eleven characters. It takes 11 characters to say that she is gone – the most loaded, painful characters. Just typing that nearly destroys me. It took me a few minutes to actually do it. But the part that really grabs hold of me and won’t let go is that rottenly precise grammarian in my head who says that my statement is technically incorrect. Because she didn’t “just die.” It isn’t like I found her passed on in her sleep or she laid in a hospital bed and left the world because it was her time and she’d told me that she was ready to go. No, she was tail-wagging. She was affectionate. She was hot on the trail of all kinds of scents outside the vet’s office — which was right before I chose to lay down with her and hold her while I paid a doctor to end her life. When I say that she died, my brain constantly corrects me and points out that, no, the most accurate statement is that I killed her.
It’s a hellish thing to torment yourself with. Because that’s really the purpose, isn’t it? It’s a visceral reaction to pain. We need to blame someone. And it isn’t even just a human reaction. When I was kid and my grandmother’s dog was older and partially blind, my cousin stepped on his tail, and the dog reacted by biting the closest thing to him that he could see — my hand. He couldn’t find, see, or reach the offender, so he bit what he could. That’s pretty much what my brain is doing as well. It needs someone or something to blame. I can’t find, see, or reach whatever caused by organ failure in my beloved, amazing, beautiful best friend, and I desperately need somewhere to put this pain. Unfortunately for me, my grandmother’s dog had a better chance of getting out of pain by biting me because I screamed, which made my cousin move. My mind tormenting me with its boiled down version of the facts isn’t eliciting quite the same effect as that bite. Or is it?
You see, when the facts are boiled down, they read like this: The World Champion of Stuffed Chipmunk Slaying (see above) had stopped eating. Suddenly and entirely. Her blood work showed that her liver and kidneys were in full shutdown. In point of fact, her blood was poisoned at astronomical levels with what those organs would no longer clear. The fact that she was not crumpled in a pile of pain and horror was a testament to her wonderful being and, hopefully, to the fact that she gave and received so much love, so willingly and so completely. That her heart was so, so, so big. The fact was that she was only managing what she did because of the forced fluids that made her not feel so bad. But she was constantly exhausted or asleep and could not do everything she wanted to do. The fact was that she would never again be able to do all the things she wanted to do. Major fluid pushes gave her one last traipsing around to follow new scent trails that filled her nose and her heart. And then she was gone — before she ever had to suffer pain that would keep her from being able to lift her head, step down off the front porch to walk over to see her grandma, or follow a scent trail in the yard.
But I am still here. And the one being who will ever be my best friend, who loved me unconditionally – and I her, is gone. The guilt is overwhelming, and the grief..
Every day is a struggle that I never could have imagined. I work out of my home, so we were together constantly. She has a bed near my desk, one in the living room, one in my room. There is nowhere I go during my day that was ever a space without her in it. She was my constant companion. I don’t know who I am without her. At times, I find the world incomprehensible.
Like the bite that made me scream though, my brain’s attack makes my heart defend itself. Because it was actually my heart that made the choice. I loved her too much to ever, ever let her be in that type of pain. I would have moved heaven and earth to save her. I would have done damn near anything to give her a life that she would have been happy to live, but as that was not in the cards, I could not put her through agony just because I wished it could be. I don’t think I have ever done anything more painful in my life. I hope that I never will have a moment like that again. I hope that the grammarian in my head is wrong. I hope that the real fact is that I freed her. I hope there is a heaven. I hope that she is there and will be waiting there for me someday. I hope that, beyond all, she understood that I let her go because I loved her too much to keep her here. I hope that she forgives me for tormenting myself with the “What Ifs.” I hope that her life was as happy as I thought it was. I hope that she knows that I will never, ever be without her, not for a moment.
I got a dog for my son. She was never supposed to be my dog.
She will forever be my dog.