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