My Mom’s younger brother passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. He was a bit of a James Dean type (cutie, bad boy but with a heart of gold) and we all loved him deeply.
In my not-so-poetic attempt, I wrote a little note as I would imagine God’s conversation with my Uncle Wayne that day as the two started their new journey together.
Welcome home, my one.
Is this what you expected? Is the light too bright?
It shouldn’t be, my one. For you carried this very light with you in your previous life. Did you not even realize?
It is said, If all would seek the face of God, darkness and regret would ne’er exist.
But you, my one, You sought me your entire life, all the while carrying my light. Sometimes you called me love. Sometimes compassion. Sometimes kindness. You had many names for me. All of which I adored. Yes, I adored you so.
You sought me, and I was there.
I was there when you gave money to a friend.
I was there when you gave land to a neighbor.
I was there when you gave your time to a dozen causes that brought my heart to leap.
I was there when you cheered those who were giving up.
I was there when you stood up for and loved the addict.
I was there when you fed the hungry.
I was there when you befriended the outcast. You listened to him. You understood him. You loved him. Like I love him. Did you know you were being me?
I was there when you honored and loved your bride. When you cried with and laughed with her. I am still there with your bride like I am here with you.
I was there when you raised your children. For every good thing and good memory you gave them, I was there. They now carry the light because of you.
I was there as you encouraged and loved and helped your buddies. They know this, because they saw me in you. Some of them also have different names for me like you did. I am OK with that. They, too, will carry the light.
I was also there in your pain. In your sorrow. When you grieved. When you doubted and asked questions. And in your ugliness. It’s OK, that’s just human.
So let no one claim that you, my one, did not seek Me. It was you, in fact, one of my rare gems, who spent his entire lifetime in pursuit of me, simply and selflessly giving away to those on your path the love and uniqueness I put in you before you were ever formed.
Good living, my one. Your life lived on Earth has fulfilled its divine purpose.
Welcome home. Now let us continue to new incredible mysteries.
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.
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.
Honey. 2016. Napping on the couch. She loved being covered!
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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.