Saying Goodbye

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I  have decided to put my dog Janet put to sleep.Her health is clearly declining.How do you know that you have done all you can do? How can you tell “it’s time”? This would seem to be a painful dilemma.I’ve been through this before and I wonder if it can be different. Is there another way to approach this?

At this moment she is resting though she does not seem entirely peaceful. Her breathing seems labored.I don’t want her to suffer.Part of me wants to drive down to the vet this instant and do the deed. Not unlike ripping a bandage off a wound, quick and simple.The other part of me will see her lift her head,  looking suddenly alert and think  ” maybe she is improving”.Who am I kidding?

I am going to miss her.The truth is, I already miss her because a part of her is already gone.

I knew several months ago where this was all going.Given her age, I opted for medication over surgery.I tried changes in diet, extra vitamin C, and fish oil.I have tried to make her comfortable.We took rides in the car  while I was running errands.I took long naps cuddling with her.I started to cook meals for her.I wanted, mostly, for her to know that I love her.

What am I afraid of facing here? I think that I am reluctant to acknowledge change.Life is moving on and so is Janet  but that’s not really it. It’s me. I am different. I have changed.After experiencing the death of so many loved ones you would think that I would know the drill by now.This time is different, though.I don’t want to share too much of this.I don’t want to have to explain or justify myself.This is my pain.However,  I believe that Janet will always be with me.How can she not be when the love I have for her is so alive? Grief is a very individual process.For me, the hardest part of it is not losing someone but the perspective it gives you.You can never see your life quite the same way again.It can feel lonely but at the same time it can feel like a treasure inside you.

A couple months ago, I wrote about Janet’s illness in a post called  ” Future Now”. It is always ” now” and now has elements of the past,  present, and future all wrapped up into one.While I write this, she is besides me but my mind is already thinking about her passing.I also see her in my mind’s eye, voraciously chomping on her ball in the back yard, dropping it to the ground, stomping her paws impatiently while she waits for me to throw it again.I see the emaciated, timid creature that I brought home 11 years ago after I approached her “owner” about letting me have her.It is heartbreaking and poignant that she is almost at the same weight that she was when we found her.She is leaving our lives much the same way she came into it.

Yes, okay, it’s time.

It was a little over a year ago when we adopted a second dog, Beulah.I had wanted to just keep everything “as is” but life is always changing.I didn’t think the Janet was sick but she could have been and I didn’t realize it.I just knew it was time to adopt a second dog so we took the plunge.The older I get, the more I can appreciate living in the moment.Each moment is unique,  informed by the past,  inspired by the future. ( I am going to tweet that! )Once you know, you have got to go with it.

For almost a week I have been struggling with a sore ankle. I don’t know how I did it but I believe it is a resurfacing of an old injury from years ago.It has forced me to spend as much time as I can off my feet.The irony is that it has forced me to slow down.I mean literally forced me.This made it easier to postpone various tasks in favor of staying in and consequently, spending time with Janet.Being home, it’s impossible to deny her condition.Being somewhat immobile, I can’t distract myself as easily by keeping busy.

I sat down next to Janet and told her, “If you want to go, it’s okay.If you want to stay let me know.” I prayed to God, “Please let me know if this is a mistake.” It’s probably not, but…

Maybe a new part of my life is being birthed in the midst of the sorrow.One can only hope.


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