Wednesday, January 5, 2011


The pharmacy just called.  "We filled a prescription for M last week, and were wondering how he was doing?"
I stumbled over the words in my head before I came out with, "We had to put him...let him go...on the 1st." 
I could've done without that phone call, even though the lady on the other end was sympathetic.
I got rid of the medicines the day after he died.  I almost did it the same day, but once I had them in my hands, I started bawling, so I put them back.  They were staring at me from the counter, each and every one of them screaming failure.  That was so different from A, where I wanted (and still want) to keep everything I had that was remotely connected to him, little though there was.  But all those medicines, including the one from last week, all the trips to the doctor, all the procedures, and still I couldn't keep him here.  I got rid of the usable stuff by sending it home with my friend the vet to give to a client who could use it, and the rest went into the trash because I couldn't stand to see it.  You open up the fridge to grab a soda, and there's the insulin that won't be used, and the dozen bags of Pill Pockets that just arrived right before he died that have no purpose now.  E says we can use them as treats for the other dogs, and he's right, but part of me just wants them gone because until they are, they will be a reminder of what we're not doing.
We're not doing meds and eye drops three times a day.  We're not cutting up hot dogs to make sure M ate enough before getting his insulin.  We're not guiding our little blind dog through doorways, and around furniture, and past rocks in the yard.  There is so much time; our remaining dogs don't require special care--we let them out, and make sure their food and water bowls are full.  That hasn't been the case for us for years now.  It's weird. 
Last night I came home to mail from the vet clinic.  I suspected what it was, but half hoped for a moment that it was a note of condolence instead.  But no; it was the bill for M's cremation.  We don't even have his ashes back yet, but they were Johnny-on-the-spot with the bill.  It's revolting.  I haven't even moved his dog bed from next to ours yet;  he spent his last night there, a night where we still had a shred of hope that he'd wake up doing better, and while it doesn't give me any comfort to see it, I recall how trying to move or change things too early really stung after A died.  Eventually it will go into the wash, and then be given to the Shih Tzus for their own, but not yet.  Maybe not until he's home again.
So many times, in blog posts and in conversations and in my own head, I lamented the suddenness of A's death, how I wasn't there at the bitterest end, how I was kept out of the aftermath of cleaning up and paying bills and settling the estate.  Dogs don't have an estate, but there is settling up to do nonetheless, and it sucks.  I always knew it wasn't easier on those widows who had nursed their loved one through a fatal illness...or rather, I imagined and suspected; I couldn't know.  But I get it now.  Would that I could've been spared the basis for comparison.
What's weird is that after all the crying on the day M died, I seem to have skipped over the middle part, the confusion, the outbursts of uncontrollable tears, and moved right to the resignation and the quiet sadness stage.  I think it's maybe because I know all that pulling of hair, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments doesn't actually change anything.  He was a little dog, nearly 12 years old, with multiple serious health problems.  There was no surprise this time; we saw it coming miles away.  I am sad, but far more functional than I was after A died, and I guess that's not too surprising, given the circumstances.  But it's launched me right back into the pit of existential angst I had really only recently pulled myself out of.  And I could've done without that, too.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

He's gone, and I am heartbroken

Today, we had to let our little boy go.  That's how I say it, because I don't want to say that I killed him.  I can't say "put to sleep," because he's not sleeping.  I can't say "put down," because it makes him sound like some wild, dangerous animal that no one cares for or loves.  We set him free from his pain and suffering, because to prolong it for our sakes would be cruel and wrong.  And yet the whole thing feels so very wrong.  I miss him so much, and hate that it came to this.

We had to make the decision that we never wanted to make, the one that of course we would make for ourselves if we could, but making it for anyone else...that's a whole other thing.  And it doesn't matter how right it was, or how much my baby isn't suffering anymore, or that it was inevitable, or that we did all we could for him, more, my vet tells me, than most would've.  It wasn't enough, and it's just unquestionably horrible.  And I have learned once again that getting the chance to say goodbye doesn't making letting go one tiny bit easier.  Watching the whole process doesn't make it make any more sense.  I keep thinking that life is just merciless.  People may be merciful, but life is not.

When we let our eldest dogter go, just 9 months after A died, I was still such a wreck from A's death, that there wasn't far to go in grieving for her, as well.  I was already grieving; it hurt a whole hell of a lot to lose her, but I was already hurting so bad that it didn't hit me quite as hard.  You can't fall down when you've been on the ground for months.

This has hit me really hard, probably, in part, because I have recovered.  I spent most of the day in a stupor, or in bed, or in a stupor in bed.  There's this numb place I can (evidently) go to where, like how you can make your eyes let go of focus and blur everything, I can let my mind blur it just enough that it isn't hammering me with its awful truth.  I know it's there, but I'm not looking directly at it and I can breathe.  And between those numb spaces, I cry until my chest hurts and my face aches, and I remember that this was how it was.  I had managed to forget, to a certain extent, exactly how it felt.  But grief has come back into my life again, and I know it so well.  So well that I know that this is normal, that I will heal eventually, that the pain can be overcome, and that, in this moment, knowing that doesn't help a bit.  It just keeps me from being scared that I will never be right again.

And yet I can't help but many times can a heart break, before it is broken irreparably?