15 August 2009

The Edge of Goodbye

"There isn't anymore that you can do for her, except care for her. She will probably have a couple of good months left." The vet paused as though she expected me to speak, but I couldn't. "Call me when...call me when you are ready." I nodded my head and smiled, the salt of my tears burning my tongue.

"Let's go, Beauty Queen," I nudged her and she peered at me, rising slowly, but still with the wag of her tail.

I carefully lifted her into the back of my car and then got into the driver's seat where I swore that my devotion and love would somehow make this story end differently.

Of course, now, I know that it won't.

I don't know how to begin to tell you her story, the beginning was so long ago. She came to me a stray that was about to put down for her lack of the ability to be housebroken. I took one look into her eyes and called my college roommate, asking her permission to bring back another dog. She laughed and said, "God, Jenn, you're such a sucker." She never had an accident in my home, barring the occasional upset stomach.

That was sixteen years ago now.

She has been with me through the birth of my children, the loss of loves and hopes, through moves almost too numerous to count--always, literally, by my side.

She cannot rest unless she is resting against me. If I leave a room to go and get a drink of water, she follows. She has always been as such. For sixteen years, probably my closest companion when you tally all the time and hours spent together.

Time has caught up with us two blond compatriots, and she is dying.

And in ways that I cannot find the words to express, so am I.

I know that the world is full of heartbreaking losses; of pains so deep that I cannot begin to imagine. I do not mean to belittle those losses; I just mean to try to express mine.

When we are outside, she now needs several breaks to slowly walk paths that just a year ago, she could have ran. Little A laughs and says, "Jessie's silly! She's shaking her legs!" when she stands alongside me, as I quietly whisper, "I know," and gently nudge her to sit.

I do not want to be the one to make this choice.

I know that I am the adult, that I owe her an ending of dignity and peace; you need not remind me of this.

Right now, I am tallying how many times I see her tail wag during a given day, versus how many times I see her stumble or falter. Today, out in the sun, she ran a little, a smile upon her face, and my resolution to tell her goodbye this week began to dissolve.

When I arise each morning and tiptoe over to her bed, I will be honest: part of me hopes that she is gone; that she has peacefully passed in the night and removed from me the burden of being the one to let go.

"She is probably holding on for you, because she knows how much it will hurt you when she's gone," my sister told me this weekend as I sobbed about the undeniable truth as Jessie paced anxiously alongside me.

The only thought that brings me any solace is that she will be united with her best friend; when he died two years ago, she paced the house, looking for him, nosing his bed repeatedly across the wood floors, standing in front of me, whining, crying, pawing my knees, begging me to arise and go and retrieve him.

God have mercy upon the person that suggests to me that animals do not have souls or know sorrow and joy and other emotions.

And so here I sit tonight; unable to picture my life without her and unable to deny that the end is near any longer. It is a feeling that brings me so much pain, physical and emotional, that it feels as though there is a vise crushing my chest.

I feel as though I should make the phone calls, summon my family and friends, tell them that they have little time left to say their goodbyes. I feel as though the world should stop, if but for a moment, out of respect for all that she was to me and my loved ones over these past sixteen years. I feel as though a child again, not understanding this thing called death and being beyond consolation at the news that someone that I loved will never be again.

If I could choose her ending, I would choose a sunny day with the birds singing and the breeze blowing gently, tiny ripples darting across the pond. I would be holding her and whisper my goodbyes, reminding her of all that she has meant to me. She would be surrounded by my family and friends, and she would go peacefully into the next world as she leaves a void in this world that I cannot imagine filled.

And I sob tonight because I know that I can choose that ending for her.

And I sob tonight because I know that I must choose that ending for her.

And I sob tonight because I know that that day is very near.

And already, I am not the same.


Christine said...

Oh, my. The tears, they spilleth over.

Much love to you.

flutter said...

Oh honey. I am so sorry

Meg said...

And I sob tonight also, because I have a dog like that. I saved her when she had only 18 hrs left before she was put down and she is the best dog anyone could ask for. She follows me where ever I go and sleeps with me. She is my closest companion, too.
I am so so sorry that you have this decision upon your shoulders. I don't envy when it's my turn.
I will say that the senerio you described with the sunny day and such sounds as good as anyone could hope for in this situation. You'll give her that gift of a peaceful sleep and that can be your thank you for all she's given you.
My thoughts are with you and your sweet Jessie.

luckyzmom said...

I understand and send you strength and comfort.

Crow said...

Oh honey...I'm so sorry...I know this is a terrible decision to make! Hang in there.

Gina said...

I'm so sorry. That is such a hard thing to go through - I've been there a couple of times myself and it sucks. But oh the joy they bring into our lives. What your sister said reminded me of a book I just read, The Art of Racing in the Rain.

Jennifer said...

Oh Jen, I am soooo sorry. My heart breaks for you. The loss of a pet is tough...they are part of our family and that loss is something that is just unable to describe. Cherish this time you have left with her...I know you will! I'll be thinking about you and saying a prayer for your sweet girl and for you and your family. The loss of a pet is tough...they are part of our family and that loss is something that is so hard.

Mandy Mae said...

Oh, I am so, so sorry that you're having to deal with this. My mama had a cat who was this way, who we also had for about 16 years, and to save her from doing it, I did it for her. It was sad and happy all at once, and I was proud to be able to save her from the pain of it all.

I'll be thinking of you this week as you're dealing with this.

Kimberly said...

I know exactly how you feel, Jenn. I just went through the very same thing in January. My heart goes out to you. I am here if you need to talk or sob or shake your fists.

Mama Goose said...

We borded our 10 year old golden while we were away for the weekend. When we arrived home last night, too late to pick him up, I caught a glimpse of what our lives would be like without him. I will never be ready for that day.

I'm sorry you are nearing the day you'll have to say goodbye. It just breaks my heart.

Anonymous said...

the depth of your loss is deep. the sorrow you feel is immeasurable. reach out to hold a hand. it won't cure the ache, but it will remind you someone is there.

Sprout + Bean said...

Goodness, the tears. I'm so sorry. So, so sorry.

My dog is getting old, and I can't bear to think about life without him.

Just know that you have given her a wonderful life and that she will rest peacefully.

Krista said...

I'm sorry.

justabeachkat said...

Oh Jen! Words fail me. My heart breaks for you. It really does. We've only had our Miss Daisy for two years and even the thought of losing her is unthinkable. I don't know what to say or how to help, but this I do know...God can comfort you when no one else can. I pray He will surround you with His comfort and love.


Amy Y said...

So sorry, Mama :(

Kelly said...

Dogs are the most beautiful creatures. They embody hope, friendship and loyalty. I know, because I had one too. She was so true, so faithful. And I love her still.

My thoughts are with you and your sweet companion, Jessie.

Rebecca and Patrick said...

I lived this identical story in 2006...thankfully, she passed peacefully in our basement on a beautiful July day. Now, we are going through it again with our Buddy. He is not well at all and we keep talking about what needs to be done, but shying away from it at the last minute. SAD. My thoughts are with you!

T. said...

Jenn, I always love the truth and the voice you have on your blog. From when I first emailed you to tell you how good you were, and encouraged you to keep writing.

I am so sorry you face this decision, it is never easy.

You express yourself so well, and bring us along for the ride. And in that way, your sweet Jessie will live forever.