A reader writes:
Your Broadcasting Bereavement post caught me in the throat. For me, it coalesces with The Last Lesson We Learn From Our Pets, a Dish thread I followed eagerly and with dread as my precious little dog, Georgia, was dying from congestive heart failure.
She died eight days ago, at home, in my arms. I asked my partner to take a picture of me holding her. I’m not sure why. I think it was because I didn’t want to let her go and thought a photograph would give me a way to hold her forever. I don’t use Twitter or Facebook, so I sent news of her passing via text message. But I wanted to share more than the news of her death. I wanted to share the news of my grief. I find it’s difficult to convey with words the enormity of such things, so I sent the photo too, which I’ve attached here as well.
What, then, is the last lesson our beloved pets teach us? I think it’s this: until the moment of death arrives, live – explore a new cushion on the floor, rub your nose in the grass, sniff the night air.
Alas, I’m a lousy student. One would think I’d be an expert by now, since Georgia is the 13th companion animal I’ve lost. Hopefully this time I’ll find a way to think more about how Georgia (indeed all of them) lived, and less about how much it hurts to lose them.
Friday was the first day in her life that my beloved Dusty didn’t wolf all her food down. She creaked out of her crate, meandered toward it and then began to walk back. It’s been like that every morning and evening since. The growth in her bladder seems to be constraining her more and more: she now seems permanently thirsty and proportionately incontinent. She peed through her diaper and entire bed the other night. This morning, we woke up to puke everywhere. This is happening more and more.
And yet, this afternoon, as we took her for a walk on the beach, and there was a little skip, a slight wander into the very edge of the water, and then, back home, playtime on the lawn. There are moments when she snaps back to normal, and makes me feel like a monster to take even a second of life from her. But those moments are getting fewer and fewer, and the incontinence and thirst and warts and growths cloud more of her hours and days. We talked it over and have decided that the discomfort will only get worse, dehydration could take hold, and then pain and suffering.
We’re going to let her go tomorrow if we can find a vet to come to our home. Your emails were so supportive and helpful I know many of you know where Aaron and I are right now. I’m just a little shocked at how totally gutted I feel – to end the life of this little being who has been with me longer than anyone else, whom I held in my hands at a couple of months old, who, right now, is lying in her crate, looking up at me typing. She has had 15 glorious summers on this beach; and she has loved this one. It’s just time, she is telling us.
Sweet Jesus this is hard.