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Category Archives: Sweet Pea

Some days it feels too hard

Le Moo likes to hang out in our partially unfinished basement. We don’t know why…if it’s the cold concrete floors, the darkness, or the general idea that she gets to sleep uninterrupted down there. We have a baby gate on our steps that we try to keep closed when we’re not down there, otherwise she goes downstairs and refuses to come back up unless there’s food involved. Unfortunately, sometimes Hub goes downstairs for something (it’s sort of his man-cave) and Le Moo follows. Then when we finally get her back upstairs, if Hub forgets to close the baby gate (it’s set up down half a flight of stairs around a corner out of sight) then Le Moo will just kind of disappear and we’ll have to go searching for her.

So she was down in her lair this morning and it was time for their lunch, so I’m yelling and yelling for her–sometimes she’s a hard sleeper–while I’m putting together their food. I turn around and I see her in the hallway at the top of the stairs and I’m like “you lazy cow”… and then I realize she’s limping. And my heart sinks.

We adopted Le Moo in the fall of 2011, and from what I remember, she was about 3  1/2 years old at the time. We’re at about 4 1/2 years from that time, so she’s about eight years old. She’s 95lbs (ish…we’re working on getting some weight off of her, even though we’ve never been able to accomplish that in the last 4+ years), and we think she’s a large breed dog. Large breed dogs have shorter life spans than their smaller counterparts. Le Moo is the twilight of her life. She’s had these limps on and off through her entire time with us, and our vet has never found anything. Despite Le Moo’s stature, she can haul ass when she wants to, and she’s prone to po-go’ing when she sees a bird or some other critter she wants to chase outside the fence. We’ve never gotten the po-go’ing on camera, but it’s pretty amazing the amount of air that she can get when in flight. Most of the time, the limp resolves, probably because she strained something when running or jumping. It’s wholly possible this limp, too, will resolve. I sat on the floor and checked her feet, paws, toes, leg, elbow, etc. She didn’t show any distress and I found nothing.

After the initial alarm, I’ve left her to rest on her own. Now I’ve been interrupted by the request to go outside. I took the opportunity during Le Moo’s snooze on the deck to inspect her paw and I have found a sore. I thought there was something on her pad and I pulled it off but it felt like…a sticker (as in a piece of paper with glue on it). But now there’s a sore left behind, which explains the limping. I’ve contacted the vet to see if we need to do anything other than keep it clean, but there’s not much we can do with a foot,  you know?

Anyway, after the initial alarm and the back and forth with Hub about what was going on, I told him If there was any reason for me not to get another dog in the future, it’s the worry and anxiety I get over them. It’s so hard to be worried all the time. He said he understood, but that they give us so much back, it’s worth it. I said, Some days it feels too hard. Some days it does. Le Moo is in her golden years. I can’t even fathom the idea of losing her, especially after losing SP. Butthead has been throwing up on and off, not to mention her ACL replacement and ensuing second surgery AND ensuing limping issues. I go to sleep every night and wake up every morning wondering if Butthead has gotten sick. We don’t know why she’s throwing up, and it’s sporadic and hard to figure out. We’ve put her on digestive enzymes in case it is acid reflux or tummy issues, and we have pepcid on hand at our vet’s recommendation if the enzymes don’t work. But it’s more worry for me. More anxiety. These I need like a hole in the head.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my dogs. I love my dogs more than I love most of the people in my life. I can’t imagine my life without them. I couldn’t imagine life without SP or life without my parents’ dogs over the years (their current, Cray-cray Lab, is limping and we don’t know why…sigh). But the stress over caring for them and worrying for them is tough. How do I balance it? How do I manage it?

How do I handle the ache that keeps settling into me knowing that Le Moo is aging…and that one day she’ll be gone? How do I not sit in this chair and cry?

 

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Six month inspection

Tomorrow is my first six month appointment after my cancer diagnosis.

I’ve been so busy with Mom, her radiation schedule, cleaning up the volunteer work she was doing, getting a wheelchair ramp installed, and searching for a cleaning service for her house (a small selection of what I’ve been doing the past several weeks) that I haven’t given myself time to think or worry about tomorrow’s appointment.

Until today. We had to take Le Moo to her annual vet appointment, which is about an hour and fifteen minutes away…one way. On the way TO the vet, poor girl was so nervous she puked in the car, so we had to pull over to clean things up. Back in the day when we had Sweet Pea, we always carried a “Puke Kit” when we took her in the car. Water bottle with clean water, a whole roll of paper towels, grocery bags for trash, an extra towel for her crate (she had a collapsible crate) if she threw up on the one we had in there, and lots of handi-wipes for us. But in the past, Le Moo didn’t throw up in the car. She would pant and pace and be restless, but no puking. Butthead doesn’t usually throw up, either.

The last trip we took to the vet for Le Moo, she threw up in the car. We have no idea why, except that we don’t really take the dogs in the car anymore. We groom them at home, bathe them at home, my parents are close by so we walk to their house when we visit, and we don’t take them to Hub’s parents’ house because they have small dogs and a small house. We don’t go to dog parks and we buy most of our dog food and treats online so we don’t go to Petco or Petsmart. And when we travel (rarely) we don’t take them. So we kind of guess that the dogs are out of practice for being in the car. The point being, Le Moo puked in the car today. We accidentally had paper towels in the car, and a large outdoor style trash bag in the back area of the van to protect the floor from dirt from something… And we had handi-wipes. So I cleaned things up, folded up the blanket we put on the floor of the van for the dogs to lay on and jammed the vomit-laden blanket into the big plastic bag. Then we were back on the road.

We spent a fortune on medications for the dogs (heartworm, flea & tick, stuff for their joints) mostly because we have to buy TWO sets of everything for a year. Le Moo got her shots and her exam and we came home.

And I went to check on Mom to see how she was doing today, and to retrieve Butthead because she hung out with them while we were gone. And Mom was not only sitting up on the couch, but she had already had a pretty good sized breakfast and was just finishing a very full lunch. She was drinking hot chocolate and told me she was eating everything she could get her hands on. So apparently her appetite is going strong right now. And then she asked me to go retrieve her crochet bag so she could work on the hat in there.

However long this lasts, it’s really good to see her perking up. We don’t know if it’s the radiation, the steroids, or a combination of both, but it was really nice to see.

So by the time I got home, despite having more to-do things on my list after my short visit with Mom, my head was spinning forward to tomorrow. To my own journey with cancer. I’m not only anxious about the exam (the last time I went in to see their PA, the exam was hella uncomfortable…an issue I’d never had before), I’m anxious about the results. I know they said they would do a pap smear on the cuff area to look for any kind of cancerous cells, but otherwise I don’t know what they’re going to look for or what they might see. The appointment is really only the first piece of the stressful puzzle, because I’ll then be hanging on by a thread waiting for results.

For better or for worse, after the appointment tomorrow, I dive back into Mom’s radiation appointments and a bunch of other things that need to be done. There are people I’m waiting to hear from before I can finish some tasks, but otherwise I have a whole to-do list of things to keep me busy.

I have no idea if I’ll sleep tonight. Not that that is so different from other nights. I guess we’ll see how well I deal with my anxiety tonight.

 

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And still I grieve

It has the power to bring me down.

The day this is posting is the day we had to let Sweet Pea go three years ago. I’m writing it six days in advance, for no other reason than the fact that today, it took me down. In an unexpected way.

I have a lot of random pictures of SP on my computer. I’ve been through them, time and again. It has made me miss her, and in some cases reminded me how much I love her and how much joy she brought to my life. Sometimes it makes me sad. I don’t look at the pictures a lot, but I do have pictures of her up around the house, mostly in frames. I still have one polaroid on my nightstand that has been with me since we moved out of our last house. I dust it off and look at it occasionally, but mostly it makes me feel better to have it there. So there it stays, on the corner of the nightstand, just sitting.

My parents have put in a bathroom in their basement with a raised tub so we can bathe all the dogs easily. She decided to make the bathroom doggy-themed, which will include pictures of all our dogs, from the first to the most recent. So today I was printing out pictures of the dogs to put in frames to hang on the bathroom walls. I put together all the other dogs, but could not decide which of SP’s to use. I asked Hub if he had any other pictures of SP on his computer to look through. He said yes, so I asked him to go through them and pick out the ones he liked. He went and copied everything he had onto a thumb drive and brought it to me, but I asked HIM to look through them first. He claimed he was busy and left the thumb drive on my laptop. For about half an hour I avoided it, then I finally plugged it in. Within minutes of seeing what was on the drive, I started crying. I told him I couldn’t look through them and I furiously started crocheting while tears just ran down my face. Hub got upset that I was upset and said he should have just looked at the pictures and he was sorry. I told him it was my decision to look, but I couldn’t, now that I knew what was on there. It was mostly pictures of SP at the end. When she was already showing signs of pain and distress. When she was already looking at us to relieve her of her pain. She looked old and bloated and sad. It was bad. Hub looked through them, but said he found nothing to use, so I asked him to go through what was on my PC to see if he could pick one he liked. I watched him go through the pictures and realized how hard it was for him. I told him I would find something, but he said he would do it. He picked out two pictures to choose from, then disappeared. I was only able to call out a “thank you” before he basically ran off.

I tried to explain to someone that when you’ve lost someone close to you, you are never the same. You only learn to live this new normal. You learn to live with the gigantic hole in your heart. It never heals, it never gets filled up again, your body just learns to adjust to it. I think sometimes it’s the mind and soul that refuses to adjust. Today my mind and soul are refusing to allow me to adjust. And I just want to cry with the pain.

SweetPea

Miss you so much, Bubba-girl. We both do. We’re so thankful to have had you in our lives for so many years. We’ll love you forever and then some.

 

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Disconnected

One of the people I follow here on WordPress wrote a blog post with a paragraph that hit a very deep part of me. Her name is April…go read her blog, it’s pretty amazing. I hope she won’t be upset that I quote her (and if so, April, let me know and I’ll edit and remove your words)…

The worst part of depression for me, is that I can’t show, or I withhold the love I feel for the people I love. I don’t hug, tell them I love them enough, pay attention to what they are saying. I deeply feel it, but for some reason, I can’t show it. That makes me feel the worst about myself, which continues the cyclic pattern of my depression. Not only does my behavior hold me captive by depression, it truly hurts my heart.

That struck me so much, and right now it’s something I’m attempting to deal with in therapy. T says I’m disembodied. The thing is, I feel everything so deeply that it is often painful. But on some level I’ve begun to realize that I feel pain, anxiety, unhappiness, guilt, shame, self-judgement…and the like very deeply. I can feel anger and fear and panic. I have a very deep understanding of my body and how it feels when it relates to any of those emotions (or pain). I know when to rest if I’m tired or feeling unbalanced. I know when to hold back energy-wise so that I can do things I really need (or want) to do. My relationship with my physical body is probably more on point than most, because I’ve HAD to be that way.

But T asked me in my last session about feeling emotional happiness, contentment, joy, things like that…in my body. ANYWHERE in my body. Where do I feel it when I look deeply into my husband’s eyes, or hold my mother’s hand… And I told her I had no idea. She asked me to think about something important, someone important, and asked me where I felt it physically. My mind went right to my first dog, who I still grieve over. I can feel the texture of her fur, smell her unique smell, see her deep brown eyes. She asked me where I was feeling that energy in my body…and I immediately burst into tears (which I rarely do in sessions). I told her I felt it in my throat, a huge lump. But it wasn’t what she was looking for, because that went right to grief and pain, and loss. Those are “easy” for me to feel.

Why do I always go right to those feelings, those emotions? Why are they so easy to manifest physically, but the good things are so hard. I love my husband and my family, my dogs, my friends. I love the people (and dogs) who are gone from my life. I love my writing, the creative side of me, but I’m disconnected from them physically. I would do anything for any of them, without hesitation, and often do what I can to show them I love them. I hug them and tell them I love them, but it’s almost an effort, in that I have to THINK about doing it. Finding the physicality of it is not automatic for me anymore. But ask me to make something, do something, go somewhere, look something up, buy something…I do it without question. Ask me about the emotion of it, how it makes me feel to show that love? I can verbalize it, but I don’t know that I FEEL it inside me.

T sent me home and told me to listen to a piece of orchestral music and to try to breathe with it. Feel it, find where it touches me physically. I did it once last week and got…nothing. In her office, she had asked me to focus on a painting and find where it brought up physical feeling in my body…but it was just a picture. I could talk about how it represented hope, and the future, and how it was full of dreams. But those words didn’t connect to anything inside me. It was a painting. I don’t have a thing about artwork, and I don’t have a thing about music. I’m not sure I EVER have. How am I supposed to find connection, embodiment in those things?

She was quick to tell me in the office that the painting thing was a diagnostic tool, not a show of failure on my part to connect. And yet, I felt like a failure. Listening to the music and feeling nada made me feel like a failure. Something else I can’t do right. I left the office, practically ran out to my car, and burst into tears again. I cried in the parking lot, I cried on the way home. I feel split open…filleted. I cried over my failure, I cried over my dog…the one whose grief haunts me. I often feel that I’m still grieving her, and that it’s blocking my ability to feel real happiness and contentment. Not one time have I mentioned Sweet Pea in therapy that I haven’t cried. That I haven’t felt inundated with grief and loss. Am I still holding on to that? Is that really doing a number on me? Or am I overthinking things again? Am I looking for a WHY when there is none?

 

 

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My favorite carpet (hates me)

When we were building this house, we talked about getting dark carpeting in a lot of the rooms that were going to be carpeted. We had cranberry colored carpeting in our old house in the family room, and it was the ONE carpet in the house I loved. It was a sploched, weird pattern, but it made me so happy to see it every day. And it was a short pile, so it was easy to vacuum…and truthfully if we ever spilled any drinks in there, you’d never know.

sp_carpet

Sweet Pea! (and our carpet)

When we went a-shopping for new carpet, I carried around a sample of this carpet everywhere we went. I tried to find it because I wanted it our new bedroom, but the manufacturer got bought out by a bigger chain and they discontinued the carpet. I never found anything even close. We ended up with a semi-shaggy (and soft) chocolate brown on our first floor (big open rooms with lots of windows) and a multi-colored tan-ish with gold-ish flecks for the upstairs (less natural light coming in). Both sets of carpet were the same manufacturer, same soft slightly shaggy pile, and we were told they would wear extremely well. We also thought we’d have Sweet Pea with us, so we figured it was best to get darker colors in the main parts of the house to hide the dark dog hair. She never made it to the new house, but those decisions were made by then.

Anyhoo, while we were shopping one time, I found this carpet that I L-O-V-E-D. But a) it was verrry expensive and b) it was an “animal print” (subtle) and everyone thought it would be too much in our larger rooms. But come hell or high water, I wanted that damn carpet. We ended up putting it on our stairs going up from the main level to the bedroom level. We have a relatively large landing (the stairs are a “U” shape) where I’d get to enjoy a larger swath of the pattern, but on the stairs it would be less overpowering. The pile on this carpet was also low and tight, so we figured it’d be easy to keep clean, no matter what dog(s) we ended up with.

The landing, post-vacuum.

The landing, post-vacuum.

Also, note the TWO dog toys discarded on the side of the steps. That's a Butthead thing...

Also, note the TWO dog toys discarded on the side of the steps. That’s a Butthead thing…

So now with two big hairy dogs, we have dog hair everywhere. Yes it gets worse when they blow their coats, but they shed all year round. Lots of hair, lots of shedding, lots of hair. Get that? And of course, that means the stairs get covered with dog hair. The stairs I have to walk up and down every day. The stairs that are visible from the family room and the foyer (altho we rarely use the front door for guests because we don’t have a walkway yet) and from all of upstairs. When we got long haired dogs, I knew what it would be like, so I’m not shocked or surprised. I knew we’d be vacuuming the stairs…we had the same issue with SP.

But holy hell, this carpet basically fights back against every vacuum we’ve ever bought (and/or tried and returned). The only thing we haven’t done is buy a Dyson, mostly because we’ve been told they don’t actually work that well. (Also, $500 for a vacuum? Hell no!) We JUST bought a Shark Rocket, which is similar to the Dyson stick thing, but supposedly has better suction power.

Da Rocket

Da Rocket

Our stairs have larger-than-average depth to them because Hub has ginormous feet and we asked to have deep steps to accommodate him. That, of course, leaves us with even more area for dog hair to collect. The Shark did okay on the steps, I thought, until I took the above pictures. The landing looks pretty okay, but those steps look like they’re still covered with dust. I wonder if it’s the lighting from the flash? Ugh.

We have two full-size vacuums in the house, but the hose attachments won’t pick anything up, and hefting the whole vacuum over each step is painful and tiring. I’m guessing at this point that the weave on the carpet is just SO tight that it won’t release anything. And also, the weave seems to have a direction, and vacuuming in the wrong direction seems to dig dirt and hair further into the pile.

If I totally didn’t love this carpet so much, I’d be considering pulling it up and replacing it. It was hella expensive, but cleaning it is nearly impossible. And even if we didn’t let the dogs upstairs (which we do, so nuts to that idea), the dog hair still floats around and would STILL get on the carpet. I’ve actually spent time BRUSHING the carpet with one of our dog’s brushes, which pulls the hair off the carpet, but having to sit on each step and brush it individually with a hairbrush? Uh uh, not going to happen, ya’ll.

I haven’t decided yet if we’ll keep the Shark Rocket. I’m waiting for Hub to give me a second opinion on how it works. It wasn’t an inexpensive investment…if it worked, I don’t think it’d be a big deal. But I’m sort of undecided on how well it worked. Then again, I’m really critical about how these vacuums work.

And just because…

Butthead snoozin' in her crate on this rainy day (she goes in there all the time to nap).

Butthead snoozin’ in her crate on this rainy day (she goes in there all the time to nap).

 

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2014 in anxiety, dogs, Sweet Pea

 

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Distraction

So, it’s the day. And I’m in it. It’s about 2:30 in the afternoon, and I’ve done everything I can to keep busy. Including, apparently, not sleeping. This post will likely be rambling and sad. I’m sorry about that.

Yesterday I got it in my head that I needed to fix the grave markers for SP and her buddy Big B (my parents’ lab, SP’s mentor). The markers I bought had faded in the sun after not-quite two years. I thought the ceramic tiles had been painted, but apparently they had a thin veneer of printed plastic on the tiles, which faded to nothingness over the last several months. So I figured I’d just paint something on them and seal them, like using stencils or something. Only the Michael’s I went to didn’t have stencils I wanted (I wanted letters and numbers, but they only had letters and the fonts were weird and not readable or too big), so I ended up buying paint pens and some other shit to try to fix the ceramic tile signs. And after spending too much money and going home, I couldn’t get any of the stuff to work the way I wanted. I ended up just hand-writing on the ceramic tiles with the paint pens. I’m so mad at myself because they look like shit, but I did the best I could. Hub put one coat of sealant on them early this morning and I hope will do another coat later today. Then I’ll put them back up for the time being. Then I’ll find something to replace them. But meanwhile, after I gave up and just wrote on the ceramic tile, I took Butthead and Le Moo outside and I sat down on the deck step and cried. It’s been hot and humid and I didn’t really want to be out there, but at least I was in some shade…and I just cried. Hub came out and found me out there, but Butthead was, well, being a Butthead, so he took her in the house and left me outside with Le Moo. I think he wanted to sit with me, but he felt it was more important to get Butthead away from me at that moment.

I cried because I miss SP, and I feel lost without her. It’s like she took away my purpose in life. Just typing that makes me tear up. Sometimes I feel wrong for this grief. Sometimes I wonder how anyone can not feel this grief in this kind of situation. And sometimes I wonder what other people think of how much I am grieving SP. The length and depth of it. Am I so odd? I want to sit here and defend myself, to explain what my grief is like on a daily basis, versus around the time of the anniversary where I am particularly emotional. But really, I don’t want to defend myself, or quantify what I am feeling, because it is my life, my world, and more importantly, my grief.

I had weird dreams last night/early this morning. This is not really news for me, as I tend to have strange dreams. This time was about not being able to see the clock, not knowing what time it was, and no one answering me when I asked them about it. It was weird and sad and lonely. Hub is sleeping on the couch downstairs. He hasn’t been sleeping well and spent all day Saturday helping a friend move. He is sore and tired, and apparently hurt his ankle, too. After grocery shopping this morning, I’ve let him be. I tend to want to grieve alone, even though I know he feels as deeply as I do about SP. I think he grieves differently than I do, and although he does tend to want to grieve with me, it makes me way more emotional. I feel like if I let him be, he won’t try to share my grief and I won’t break down as hard. I don’t know. I’m rambling.

I’ve stopped and started this post a couple of times, each time breaking away from it to go do something. On one hand I want very much to release my emotions here, but on the other hand I am afraid to let go too much. Just re-reading my post about the anniversary of my loss of SP made me tear up. I don’t want to lose control because it costs me too much, physically and emotionally. As I’m typing this evening, I’m trying to think of something else I can go do to distract myself some more. I guess I will give in, because I don’t feel like I’ll be doing anything other than rambling at this point.

 

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Anniversary of loss

I am writing this ahead of time, as I often do, but the expectation is that I will post this on the day that SP left us. I don’t know if I will blog again on that day or not. This is the second anniversary…I’m not sure how I will feel or how I will handle the day. Writing may help me on the day, but then again it might not. I just won’t know until I’m in it.

It’s been two years since I held my precious Sweet Pea. Two years since I’ve been able to kiss her sweet snout, the spot between her eyes, the top of her head, her soft silky ears. Two years since I’ve been able to hug her close, smell her unique doggy smell, rub her furry tummy. Two years since I’ve been able to do anything in regards to her except grieve. Grieve and remember…and struggle.

When Sweet Pea came to us, I was in the first year of my first set of chronic illnesses. After some adjustment time, she became my constant companion as I stayed home through illness after illness. At 75lbs, she was big and had very long, black hair. She was hard to miss, hard to step over, and easy to love. She was charming and adorable, and everyone fell in love with her. She used to sit with my 90-year-old grandmother, big head on my Nana’s leg, so that my grandmother could pet her with a gnarled and boney hand. She would lay on the floor and let you fawn all over her. She would insinuate herself in between Hub and me when we were hugging to join in the hug. She loved people, and loved to be loved.

For the entire time we had SP, I was either at home because of illness, or I was working from home (with illness). So I was home for the entire 9+ years she was with us. And she was home with me. Every day, all day, all the time. She was a herder, and preferred not only to keep me in sight, but to be with me. When Hub came home after work, she would be with him as much as possible, but oftentimes she would position herself so she could see both of us. During the day, she was with me. It didn’t matter if I was working from bed in the bedroom, or in the family room eating lunch while watching the noon news. She was with me. She wasn’t necessarily right under my feet, but she was in the same room or in the vicinity, where she could keep an eye on me. I talked to her all day. I sang to her when we went downstairs to make her (and me) lunch. I was the one who fed her, who let her out, who kept her happy during the daytime. I played with her, I gave her treats and toys, I petted her, I kept up a running commentary with her when she was in the room with me. When I turned around, she was there with me. When I was in bed–working or resting or sleeping–she was next to me on the floor. Right along the side of the bed or in front of my dresser next to the bed. When I felt poorly, she would stay with me and check on me. When I had no energy to get up and do anything, she didn’t judge me. She didn’t even make me worry about getting her out during the day to pee or poop. But the truth is, even when I felt like shit…even when I was dizzy or on crutches with two bad knees, I still got up for her. I still made sure she could get outside. I still found a way to comfort her when she was frightened of thunderstorms. I did it because of the amazing love and joy she brought to my life. I never wanted to let her down or make her uncomfortable, so I pushed through the issues I had as best I could to be the best owner I could for her. And she never asked for more than I could give her. I didn’t (and don’t) have a lot of friends, so she was the one I spent my time with. When Hub was away or at work or out for the evening, she was with me. She was a part of me.

In 2011, she started slowing down. Not surprising to us, because based on what we knew we adopted her, she would have been going on 12 years old. That’s old-age for a large dog. Then, in late July of that year, she developed a cough. It scared me. We took her to our vet, but he found no reason for the cough…but found an auto-immune disease that would explain her increased and pretty marked lethargy. And as the tests continued–along with medications–the news got worse. And so did Sweet Pea. She became unable to walk the stairs to our bedroom, so Hub began sleeping on the couch in the family room to be near her. She started having trouble walking down the three deck stairs to the yard, so Hub began helping her out to the front yard down only two concrete steps (one step out the door, then the concrete porch and one step off the porch) to do her business. Then she began having trouble getting up…and the medications made her pant heavily…and they made her painful. And every day, I died a little inside. Not only because we knew this was serious–likely fatal–but because she was suffering. Even though it was only a little at that point, there was no uphill from there. I prayed she would give up. I prayed G-d would take her in her sleep–though she only dozed during the day, she was restless at night. I prayed that we would get some kind of report saying there was no hope and that it was time. I got none of it. The tests were inconclusive, but experience from our vet said there was likely nothing we could do except extend her life a few weeks or a few months…maybe. But in the end, she was not going to last long…and it was not going to be an easy time for her. And letting her hang on and die “naturally”…our vet said it would be painful for her. Like drowning, or being unable to breathe…struggling, gasping. It was three weeks from the first vet visit for a cough to the day we took her in for her last visit. In between was medication, tests, an emergency drive two hours away to an ER vet for a transfusion (where she had to stay locked in a cage overnight without us) during a bad hurricane, there was a bad reaction to the infusion, more tests…and pain. My sweet, loving, gentle girl snapped at a vet tech who barely touched her, snapped at our vet when he tried to help her, and cried. She’d never done any of those things in the nine years we’d known and loved her. She’d never snapped at anyone, ever, over anything. Man or beast. And then there were the eyes. She watched us every day, with these big, sad eyes. Pain seemed to radiate from her gaze. We hesitated to touch her because we thought it caused her pain. I laid on the floor with her in our dining room…the softest carpet in the house, and I stroke her paw. I stroked the spot from between her eyes down to her nose, so lightly I barely felt her fur. I wanted to hold her and hug her close, but I couldn’t. I wanted her to make the decision for us, but she refused. She refused to stop caring for us. She refused to let go, because she knew it was her job to see to us first. We had no choice. We had no fucking choice.

We took her in to the vet. I talked to her from the moment they put her on the table until long after she was gone. I told her that we were letting her go, and that her job was over. That it was our turn to take care of her the way she had taken care of us for the last 9 years. I told her it was all right, that she could go, she could be free of her body that was betraying her. And I cried like I’d never cried before. I told her how much we loved her. I told her how thankful we were to have her in our lives. I told her how much we would miss her. I sobbed and I petted her and I held on to her. I smelled her fur and her feet and touched her ears. And I cried. And inside, a part of me curled up and died with her.

We took her to our property and laid her to rest in a pretty spot near my parents’ dog, who had died one year prior. It was incredibly hot and humid, but my family–my brothers and my parents and Hub–dug a hole. Deep and wide, so there would be no concerns about the animals in the area. And it was so hot out, but they did it. And they put her in the grave, wrapped in her two favorite bed covers, with a couple of her favorite toys and an unwashed shirt of mine that smelled like me.

I can’t tell you the tears I’ve cried for my girl. I can’t tell you the hole in my heart from the loss of her. I can’t tell you how much I’ve changed because of her. I can’t explain how much I’ve changed with the loss of her.

I’ve written about her a lot. A lot in the first year she was gone. Not as much during the second year, though I’ve talked about her often in a professional and personal setting. I think about her every day. I’ve gone back and read the things I’ve written about her…and cried like it was the day that we let her go. I did it today in preparation for this post. It was incredibly painful. It IS incredibly painful.

I posted this on her six month anniversary, elsewhere. I re-read it earlier and every word is still the truth for me today.

I woke this morning early, looking directly at the clock by my bedside. The clock shows not only the time, but the date…and I almost felt my heart stop. I had been crying most of the night after I turned off all the lights. Images of the day we let SP go were running through my head, making me sob like it was the day it happened. I am crying now as I type. So when I woke this morning, I was fuzzy-headed, and I could swear the clock was telling me today’s date was 3-3-12. How could that be? I knew today was the six month anniversary, and that SP had left us on 9-2-11. I couldn’t believe I had missed the day, although I have been feeling the pain of this date for weeks.

I stayed in bed for hours, long past my husband let Le Moo out and went on his way to work. I stared at the clock, tears clogging my throat as I berated myself for missing the 2nd. It wasn’t until I was standing outside with Le Moo, staring at the trees in our back yard, when I realized that my clock must not have allowed for leap year. I KNEW today was the 2nd…I knew today was the day. I had spent hours thinking about it, not knowing how I could have been mistaken.

I feel whipped and beaten. I spent most of the hours crying last night and early this morning thinking that I desperately wanted to go to the basement and bury myself in the dog bed SP slept on in our old house in our bedroom. It’s an atrocious 70s orange color, something I found at overstock and bought merely because at the time it was the only memory-foam dog bed I could find big enough for her that we could afford. She loved the bed and we put up with it because of that. I mean that color would burn your retinas and I have no idea why it was ever made, but she loved laying on that thing. I suspect before the afternoon is over, I will be sitting with that bed, trying to find her smell and looking at the dog hair I hope it still clinging to it.

I cannot tell you how often I ache over the fact that I do not have a pawprint from her. I know there is one embedded in my heart, but I wish I had one to look at and touch. I have finally put one picture of her on my wall in addition to the polaroid picture I keep next to my bed. I want to put up so many that I fear it would cover the entire wall…but then I think it would kill me to see them.

I feel like I cannot get past this loss. I feel like I will never get past it. I still think of her every day. I still wish that she was here with us. I still look to step over her next to the bed. I cannot believe I have woken up without her every day for the last 180 days…how is it possible? How have I made it?

SP, I carry this pain of your loss every day. It is a part of me and will always be. I miss you so much that sometimes it hurts to breathe. And he misses you, too. I see it in his eyes and I feel it in his heart, even though he doesn’t show it the same way I do. You know how much he adored you, how he lived for those early morning and late night conversations with you. How he looked forward to coming home from work every day to see you waiting for him at the window, or at the top of the stairs, wagging that gorgeous tail of yours. How we both loved your big brown eyes and the “eyeliner” that Mom swore you woke up early every morning to put on. I miss touching your soft fur, feeling you snuffle my face and my eyes and my hair. I miss hugging you and calling you Sweet Pea. I miss singing to you when we went downstairs every day for lunch. I miss you, dammit. There isn’t a thing about you I don’t miss. The way you would eat your food, then come find one of us and burp right in our face like it was a “thank you”. The way it felt when you leaned against us, sharing your love with us. The way you used to run out into the yard to see neighbors walking by the fence…the way you used to run back to the house looking happy and “lighter” after you poo’d.

And as I sit here, I remember your last days, and I sob for the pain. I remember sitting on the floor in the dining room, on that atrocious pink carpet you loved to use as a scratching post for your toenails…I was already in pain as I considered what lay ahead of us. That we would have no other option but to let you go, to take away the pain of your disease. I remember posting here, asking for guidance and support, knowing that we had to do the right thing. I remember laying there with the laptop nearby, wishing I could hold you close and never let you go, but knowing even the smallest of caresses could cause you physical pain. I remember touching your paws, hoping it would not be too much for you. I remember using one finger to stroke the spot between your eyes and down your snout, praying it would not bring you pain but give you comfort and show you my love for you. I remember sitting in the family room, begging him to take a picture of the two of us because we had NONE….but only hovering over you because I was afraid to touch you. I hate those pictures. I remember taking you to the vet hospital, and sitting in the car with him, both of us dreading the moments because they were our last with you. Your beautiful gorgeous face, watching us, looking so tired and old and sad…the pain from the meds and the disease having beaten the life from you. And when we arrived, how you tried so hard to get out of the car on your own, but we wouldn’t let you. We were so afraid you would hurt more. The moments when we stood with you in the exam room, as the vet gave you treats to say his goodbye to you. The way you laid there on the table, so trusting and loving, but so tired. I hated every second of it. I hated that we had to do it. I hated that it had to happen. I hated that we had to let you go. It was so bittersweet to see the pain lift from your body as your life ended.

I am literally doubled over in pain, sobbing with the pain of this all. Of the memories. Of the loss. Of the regrets.

I love you, Sweet Pea. I love you, Sweet Pea. I love you my precious beautiful Sweet Pea.

I suspect between today and the day this posts, I will cry every day. I will cry every single day, the ache in my heart and the hole in my soul still raw and ragged with my loss.

 

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