I decided that if I cried while swimming in the ocean, it wouldn’t count. I knew there was no logic behind this but it felt like tears would just blend in with salt water. So, while swimming in- between the high green Florida waves, I would cry, sob sometimes, because my dog had died a little more than a week ago.
Many years ago I used to be the kind of person that saw a sympathy card for a dog and I would roll my eyes and think to myself ‘it’s just a dog’ for goodness sake. That was before I ever had a dog. Once I had a dog, who became so ingrained in our family’s lives, things changed. I am grieving the loss of our dog; more emotionally, of course, than the rest of the family.
When I think back on the night before she died I could kick myself. I wasn’t open to receiving her messages like I usually was because I was too upset. But, she told me in the blinks of her eyes that she would be leaving, she was saying good-bye only I wasn’t ready to listen. I know now. Thank you, sweet girl.
Before we took her for surgery I gave her the talk I had given her many times before. I cradled her soft face with my hands and whispered to her my same speech: “You know I love you Callie, I love you so much, we all do but I promise, not to let you suffer. I know you don’t want to suffer pain and I don’t want that for you. I love you too much.” Once I kissed her and nuzzled her she happily went off with the technician at the veterinarian, I didn’t know I would never see her again. I felt optimistic, not a feeling that comes naturally to me.
When the veterinarian called, from surgery, my heart stopped. He had opened my dog up and told me that the mass he had found did indeed turn out to be cancerous. Not only was it cancerous but it had spread to 75 percent of her body. He said “thought what we had said about not wanting her to suffer and this is what he would do personally if she was his dog, he would not wake her up.” I agreed, rationally, as did my husband. In no way, did we want our dog to suffer; I had made a promise to my dog and I was determined to keep it.
After that, reality set in. The healthy looking dog I had cuddled with this morning was dead? How could that be? She had no symptoms at all except for two very quiet little yelps, that I hadn’t even heard, two days before and then she returned to her old, self. She ate, she played, she climbed up the stairs and jumped on the bed in her usual position right next to me. By moving her neck around she showed me where she wanted to be scratched and I obliged. The only sign that something was different was that for a brief period of an hour or two she wouldn’t look at me and she hid under my husband’s desk and her eyes would not meet mine; she looked away.
I had kept my promise to my dog, I had not let her suffer any pain. I told her how much I loved her and what a great dog she was. I told her how the whole family loved her. All the right things were done. I understand that it was a shock, I understand she is dead. I cannot understand WHY my mind keeps forgetting that when we come home from the airport tomorrow she will not be there, on the other side of the door, barking and whimpering, eager to welcome us home with her gentle, wet kisses.
I don’t know how to handle that, I think it is just one more thing to get through and yes, I will probably cry.