Joy Springs Forth

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Honey. 2015. I just looked up from my work and caught her gazing at me. ❤ Of course I dropped everything and gave my attention wholly to this sweet thing!

 

Five days since I’ve seen Honey, yet I see her a thousand times a day.

 

My grief is beginning its metamorphesus. I am crying less often, though my cheeks still feel constantly wet. My eyes still worn and depleted.

In place of the shellshocked random tearful outbursts that plagued me, however, I now have a little more control but I wear this dark, wet, heavy blanket around my body that acts as a constant drain. Its weight compresses on my lungs to such a degree that each breath is painfully shallow yet deep and each exhalation sends all of my core muscles into spasm at the effort and expectation of yet another belaboured breath to start the weary cycle over again.

And while I don’t delight in donning this dreadfully suffocating garb every morning upon rising, I am finally beginning to see that my joy never was really stolen from me. The joy is in the wearing of the blanket! Yes, that dreadfully heavy, suffocating, saturated, black blanket.

The joy simply caresses me from the blanket’s fibers, enveloping me in love, reminding me of the happiness that my Honey brought me and of the perfect love that the two of us shared.

Only in this kind of pain and deep mourning can one ever come to realize the depth of love that they had once known and shared in life.

Yet another one of those double-edged swards.

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Day 3/4 – Rollercoaster Ride

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Honey and Goose. 2015

12:12 a.m. – First High
Unbelievably, I just found myself walking around the house with a smile on my face. And I was thinking of Honey! My mid didn’t go to that dark place; I think I might be breaking that threshold. I believe healing is happening. Oh my God, I miss her so. But I’m thinking less of her death now and more of her life. ❤

5:09 p.m. – Low again
Is it ludicrous to say I might be dying of heart break? I thought I was better today. I went for about 4 hours without crying. And I was even able to think of Honey and smile. And then it hit me. Boom. Like the plague of death just swept over me and knocked me to the ground with such a force as to paralyze.

This is terrible. I don’t think I can get another animal and go through this again. I can’t do it. My heart is bloody raw right now and it sucks. Oh, God, just take me now.

7:45 p.m. (74 hours)
I went to the grocery store just now to get a couple things. Oh, and also for wine.

Is it bad that I went through a whole bottle of wine in the last three days? I usually nurse the same bottle for a couple months. But there’s something therapeutic about a couple glasses of wine when you’re in mourning. I don’t think it will become a problem. I’ll let you know if I’m still drinking two glasses a night a month from now!

My drive home through my neighborhood was really hard. I passed two of my neighbors walking their dogs who had stopped to chat. Honey had a relationship with both of these dogs. She knew them. They were her friends.

At first sight, I was delighted, and I waved and smiled at them. But as soon as I drove past, the plague gripped me once again and I broke down right there in the car. I’m not sure I’m drinking any more water than usual, so where do all these tears come from? Damn, this sucks. I know it will ease with time, but this is one of those times I’d like to be able to skip over a month of my life without feeling it.

8 p.m. (75 hours) – Goose
I fed my daughter’s dog, Goose, just now. Bittersweet, for sure, but I’m OK. Having Goose around is a double-edged sward, to say the least. On the one hand, it’s a blessing to have him around to pet for those moments when I just need a sweet dog to pet and cuddle. Of course I know it’s not Honey, but there’s something about the act of petting itself that fills that need. On the other hand, Goose is there and Honey is not. It’s a constant reminder every time I see him. Honey is gone.

Honey’s food bowl was always 12 inches off the floor because she is a big dog. And Goose has always eaten from his bowl right on the floor. I thought I’d try moving Goose’s bowl into Honey’s spot but he wouldn’t touch it. I sensed that he must recognize that that is not his bowl but Honey’s. He doesn’t know yet. How could he. He just knows she’s not here. He’s experience her absence before with all the vacations I’ve taken and took her with me.
Of course this is the first time I’ve ever been here at the house and Honey not here. He’ll figure it out soon. I think he is already a little confused by the way he tends to walk to some of the spots she used to occupy. In the meantime, I moved his food bowl back to the floor. The moment I did, he started gobbling it up.

Bless his heart. I love him, too. But again, there’s a rope wound around my entire body, and it just so happens to be tightening up on itself right at this moment. I know I can breathe, but it still feels like I am suffocating.
Damn. I miss Honey.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Day 3 – Guilt Fades

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Honey. Early 2016. On one of our many road trips together. She had a memory foam mattress stretched fully out for her comfort! 

 

Five hours into the third day. Of course I spent the first half of the day crying. I have never wailed like this in my life. Not my adult life anyway. I do remember crying like that as a child. I guess as we lose our innocence and our connection to our original spirit self that we are born with and carry for the first few years of childhood, we become acutely aware of the sounds that our pain and the utterances of our crying make, and we learn that such noises are not desirable and should be stifled.

But I’m a different person now – spiritually. Something moves in me and nudges me to let my mourning be raw and loud. Since Lauren lives with me, I try to keep it down when she’s home at night, but during the day while she’s at work, I have not denied myself even one pang of vocal lamentation. I’ve just let my moans fall freely throughout the house. Regardless of what it sounds like. There’s no judgment. I think there’s something very cathartic about doing so. Very healing.

As I walked tonight, a routine Honey and I shared nightly and which I have chosen not to give up, I thought about Honey the entire time. And of course the feelings of guilt started to flood me. I kept seeing the euthanasia over and over in my head. It wasn’t dramatic in  itself, but because of the emotions that erupt from it.

But I had spent just a couple hours prior to that looking through all my photos of Honey. What I discovered, by having seen photos of her in her healthier days just 4 years ago, was that in her last days she had severe imitations for a dog and she was in constant pain every single day. She couldn’t lift her backside to flip positions while lying down, so she would lift with her front and just throw herself down. Her back legs would often (almost always) be trapped awkwardly underneath her big torso. It had to be terriblbly painful for her. I fed her constant pain pills, so that helped. But I could tell at the end that they were not enough.

My point is that I think I am finally convinced that I made the right decision to send her to her final resting place. Where she is indeed resting now. Without pain. In the end, I think she was existing day to day just to please me. Everything she did was to please me. It was my turn to do the ultimate grand gesture and please her.

 

Empty Shell

50 hours now.

It is almost harder, it seems. I cried all day long, with just short intermissions. My crying is so deep and vocal, too. Who even cries like that? Oh my goodness. I think this mourning process is so much tougher than when my last dog Ollie died. Maybe because with Ollie, I had kids to pour myself into. So he got a percentage of my attention! Though I had him before I married or had kids, so I wouldn’t have claimed at the time that he was any less loved or valued than my kids.

So I really don’t know why this seems so much harder. Maybe it’s a memory thing. I bet if I were to go through childbirth today, I’d probably be astonished at the pain and act like it was the worst, just because it’s been so long and I really don’t remember just how painful it was.

But this time with the kids grown, Honey has been the object of my affection. She is my baby. She has been receiving all of me. And I adored the unconditional love she so easily gave. She was part of my routine. I didn’t make a move or decision that didn’t first consider how it would impact her.

My body feels like a shell today. An empty shell.

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Honey. 2016. Napping on the couch. She loved being covered!

Just Breathe

Imagine being shot out of a cannon. You’re going 500 mph, but it feels like you are in slow motion going 10 feet per hour. You know the world is rushing by you, not quite sure at what speed, but you can’t reach out and touch anything. All you can do is hold your breath and come up for air when you have to.
Breathe.
Breathe.
Breathe.

If I just breathe in and out over and over, day after day, time will have done its duty and healing will prevail.

Breathe.
Breathe.
Breathe.

Love – an Empty Bowl

As I sat clutching Honey’s pillow and wept in my grief, my focus shifted momentarily to love. The love that I felt for Honey is not gone. Only she. So what happens to the love that I have sacrificially given to her these last 11 years? If she’s not here any longer to receive it, what do I do with it? Or is it gone from me to her grave with her? Is it like a bowl inside me that refills as it is needed? What do I do with that bowl now when it’s empty and swollen and painful?

What if I made the conscious effort to hold on to that love I had for Honey, and direct it to somebody else in my life? Who would that be? And what would it look like? Just a thought.

27 Hours Later – The Pillow

27 hours.

I sat down in my chair with laptop in hand. I instinctively looked down to my right where Honey always lay when I worked in this spot. I saw the plush pillow I had laid down beside her dog bed to give her a head rest, as her long length often meant part of her body was on the floor.

The sight of that pillow struck joy within me. I was the last place she had laid her head to rest before we went to the vet.
I snapped up the pillow, brought it to my chest as though it had her life force still in it, and hugged it and cried in it. It was the most wonderful refuge for my grief. I just held it and I knew I was sharing it with her. She was there with me.

25 Hours Post-sleep

It’s been 25 hours. It just kicked in how much I miss her. Up to now, I’ve been in total grief mode just rewinding the last few minutes of her life as they put her to her forever sleep.

That is the only image that has been in my mind. I have beat myself up wondering if I chose the wrong time. Wondering if I made the right decision. wondering if she would have been fine hanging on another year or two. But just now, I instinctively turned the corner in the living room and looked for her, ready to stop and pet her as I always did, dozens of times a day. So it hit me on a new level just how much I miss her. Because I want to touch her now. To pet her and comfort her as I’ve been doing a lot these last couple years.
I would recommend anybody that knows that their pet’s time is almost up and that they will be having to put them to sleep, to do this:
Make a list that runs for a few weeks or even months. On this list, write down every time your pet struggles, or cries or groans from pain, or falls, or shows any symptom of illness, sickness or deteriorating old age. Because after you give them up to their forever sleep, you will second-guess yourself. And your memory will be very short. You will forget 90% of the reasons you and the doctor thought it was best to make the decision in the first place. Your memory will instinctively want to hold on to just the fond memories and let go of the ones of pain and sadness for your pet. So naturally, you will second guess yourself and start beating up on yourself for being inhumane and heartless. But if you have your list to remind you of her pain, you will be reminded instantly of just how heartfelt and humane you actually were.
I guess I am lucky in that my daughter and her dog Goose are staying with me right now. So it is comforting to be able to pet her dog. On the other hand, he is also the catalyst of my tears throughout the day! But that’s ok. I’m better for having him here.

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Today’s the Day

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Honey in May 2010. Still in her prime!

August 8, 2016

Today was the day I decided it must be done. She was getting no better and her struggle to move about was breaking my heart.

She was 11, and I guess for big dogs (80 pound) that’s pretty old.
Honey had developed severe hip dysplasia (which is also common for her breed) about three years ago. As she overcompensated for her hips, she blew out the nerves and muscles in her front two legs, making any kind of hip surgery/recovery impossible.
She had some other stuff going on with her liver and kidneys that gave her problems as well.

This last month her left hip finally dislocated and there was nothing they could do for it. She was in terrible pain – I saw it every time she moved, even with the pain meds that I was giving her. She could only get up unaided about 40% of the time, the rest of the time she would give up, but I would come behind her and lift her hind end up for her. And even then, walking was a terrible struggle for her.

It was a terribly difficult decision for me to make, especially when I would see her excitement and spirit shine through. But I had been telling myself for three years (after seeing her hip x-rays) that once her hip comes out of its socket, I would spare her the pain and agony going forward.

I went through this once before with my 17-year-old Ollie, and I thought I was prepared. But this time is so much harder. I guess because Honey depended fully on me and I kind of depended on her. She and I were attached pretty tightly.

How Will I know It’s Time?

Honey May 2014I wrote this in my journal on August 4, 2016.

I look at Honey and see her struggle to get up off the floor. To even walk and pee and poop. I see the pain she feels. I almost feel it too.

And then I have to ask myself, “is it time?” Is tomorrow the day I take her to the vet and have her guided into eternal sleep? How does one even make that decision if it’s not a quick onset instantaneous health tragedy? She can still walk – though limited. She can still eat. She still enjoys her daily walk in the neighborhood – though she now has to stop about 8 times along the way for 3 to 5 minutes each stop. Yes, our walks take a long time now.

So how does one decide when it is right?  When I make that decision for her, my life will be over as well. I can’t even describe the bond. She is my everything. She depends on me like no one else does. She loves me unconditionally like no one else does. And I love her to the core.