Impossible blue skies overhead. The warmth of the winter sun brings a sense of surprise to my walk. Sunshine in the dead of icy cold invigorates the conscience, and seems to give hope for the moment…it lightens the mood.
So much change… before and after, that’s how it seems to be now.. The mind still fights to comprehend it all, and I still feel dazed and confused as to how much life has changed.
Routines that I used to follow, as I staggered half asleep, and barely coherent from my room, through the living room, to her room.
Something had awakened me in the night. Had she cried out, or had I imagined it, as I do now, before my mind realizes that it is silent…no more cries…moans…giggles…seizures..
How can it be, I fathom…that just like that, the 17 year routine is over…done…what to do…what to do?
The stepping forward into the new is terrifying. How do you define yourself? Am I now just the Mother of two sons, or do I still say 3 children? These are the hard answers at the dinner party…meeting new people.
I don’t want to be..that person..You know the one that causes everyone to stop talking, as they turn and stare at you, after you dare to explain something that you can’t…she has gone…and the conversation just stops…dead…
It is all new..will it ever be old? Will I ever get used to my new non-routine. I feel like Pluto.. I’m no longer a planet…so then.. what am I, and who am I?
These things cause me to wake up at night at 1..or 2..or 3..or 4…you catch my drift.
I had imagined this “after,” but I could never quite define or see how it would be. I think it’s meant to be this way. This haze that permeates my brain..
A counselor calls this “normal,” …”whatever that means..” This fog, this inability to press ahead..to disengage the before life you shared together….it’s very confusing.
And so…I had put it off, this trip to the vet. Somehow, yet again, I was being prepared for a news I so was not wanting to hear.
“I’m so sorry..” She added, as she turned to me, and explained the hazy images on the X-ray screen…” He has cancer in his heart and lungs…”
Tears just spring into your eyes immediately when you hear these wretched words….Our 10, almost 11 year old beagle, Mario has cancer.
His lovely dark brown eyes had looked beseechingly at me for his whole life, and now they looked up at me with a quiet understanding and gentle assurance. He had known…he had felt it. His breath was slower, more jagged…He was tired.
The cancer was invading his space where his life giving oxygen was coming from. The deadly disease was crowding out his lungs….such a foul disease…I hate it!
I just could not stop crying….I explained to the vet, who is a wonderful caring woman, that our daughter had passed into the arms of Jesus just over 16 months ago. Her eyes now filled up, and she removed her glasses with one hand, and wiped the escaping tears with her other hand.
“Perhaps Mario wants to go and be with her?…” Such an exceptionally understanding, and profound thing to say. I was monumentally touched by her remark.
“Perhaps 1-6 months..”
It felt like it was all too much…again… How do I go home and tell my 21 year old son Logan, who hand picked Mario as a pup, that his precious companion had just a little time left. He was just 11 years old when he received the beagle as his birthday gift? He was so overjoyed, and they had been bosom buddies ever since.
Our pets, if you have them, own you, body and soul. They give such joy and comfort to our lives, and enrich it beyond measure. I would tell Mario most every morning as he had a big stretch…”you are a good man.” He gazed intently at me, and his chocolate eyes would melt, while he smiled at me in agreement.
When I brought him back from the doctor, he entered the house from the back hall, and went directly into Bianca’s room, and crawled in under her bed. Did he know this was the space where she had last been?… I think so…He knows..he is a wise and loyal dog.
He always found comfort in there with her…this spot…” Holy ground,”.. Her room is that. There is intangible essence of pure joy in this room. This place where Bianca spent much of her life, also often had the beagle laying right beside her bed.
He looked after her.
If I went down to the basement, or out into the garage to complete some errands, when I would come back in, I would find my daughter’s door would be ajar, and there I would see him, quietly watching over her, from his self appointed spot ajacent to her bed.
This just was the most special thing to me. He guarded her, and he loved her….without me telling him to do it, he knew that it was his purpose….and he did it superbly.
Then there is Logan…my second born son. This is his dog…As with many young boys, the adventures and mischief that these two got into…priceless.
They are buds. They adore each other. Logan created countless games with both Mario, and Tillie, our younger female beagle. He would take bits of ham, or turkey, then when the beagles jumped for the meat.. would say..”stay..stay..stay…” This caused the dogs to go berserk with excitement.
I, would then hold the beagles by their collars, and Logan would go and hide throughout the house. I would count to 30, then I would “release the hounds,” I always loved saying that, and they would take off, hitting breakneck speed, as they rounded the stairs, and howling as they went went in search of Logan and the “meat treats.”… It was hilarious, and wonderful..It always made me giggle.
In the past, when walking them, along with Bianca in her chair, Mario would trot along out front, much to her delight, and always looked back to check on her. She was his ward…
A few winters ago…I bundled Bianca up in her snowsuit, and decided to go for an excursion. The beagles would not be left behind, so off we went. Abby came over, and decided to try and get the dogs to pull her on the “circular saucer sled.” The road was super icy.
We decided that if I ran backwards, pulling Bianca with me, and intermittently threw milk bones in their wake, Abby could sit on the sled, holding them by their leashes, and they would run…
Oh my…but this was excellent. Bianca was entertained..Abby was entertained, the dogs were entertained..and yes..so was I.
It is one of my best memories ever…until I nearly fell over a slight drift in the road, while running backwards, and almost capsized my daughter out of her “ride,” ..it was all good.
This is life..so enriched when sharing it with the dog. It was good…it is good.
My son said”why do dogs have to live shorter lives than us?.. Can’t I give up some of my life..to extend his?”
This is love…and it hurts when the person/creature that you love is sick, or is diagnosed with a fatal disease.. you don’t want their life to end, and the thought of being without them..just seems impossible to fathom.
The “baying of the beagle,” him licking your feet, sitting protectively by your chair, while you scratched his ears…and being your companion out on our many walks….it will be missed desperately, when he leaves us.
The warmth of the fire warms his body, and he lays contentedly there, breathing more evenly, and resting his now grey haired face gently on his outstretched paws.
Contentmentment and quiet…he is an example to me, that we can maintain, and sustain life just a moment at a time, one breath to the next. The looking forward is ominous, and unknown…and so..I try not to go there…it takes effort.
It takes prayer…lots of it…