United States of Motherhood: Death & Family: She Glued Our Hearts

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Death & Family: She Glued Our Hearts

My hands cup her silky soft throat tonight.

Her breathing is rough and labored.

We sit on her couch in the darkened office cocooned in a quilt made by a grandmother.

We have spent all afternoon covering her in praises, kisses, and tears as her now frail body shuddering the life out of her slowly, breath by trembling breath, shivered.

Death has come seeking her fast. Too fast. We are not ready.

Yesterday, she bounced with joy, with a sparkle in her eye as she chewed on small pieces of juicy steak. Last week she went with us on a two hour walk that exhausted Seb.

Today, our family spends hours watching.

Watching. Waiting. Sobbing.

Today, she limps. She barely moves. She shakes. She pants. She is listless.

Seb was chastised for being too rough around her. Too clumsy. He has stayed away. He knows something has changed.

Her eyes look different. They look both sad and soulful. I can see the pain in their amber-hued depths.

We have discovered beyond the stubborn cancerous tumor in her chest and lungs, a new hard growth in her spine. Today, she limps and her back contorts.

It is night and day from yesterday. Almost unbelievable.

PB sees hope in the slightest of changes. She pleads that she is just fine. She begs me to agree that she is fine.

I cannot give her false hope as much as she would like, my other brown eyed girl.

I wipe my swollen eyes and call the boys to give words of love that I think might be their last time to give.

We quietly click photos of her with the kids since I am unsure whether there will be another chance. More time.



Death begins to hurry the moment forward.

Always independent and spry, today if you pick her up, she is limp and stays glued to the position you put her.

She takes small amounts of water, but the effort leaves her breathless and grunting.

I crush baby aspirin for her to take.

My only wish is that she does not suffer. My fear is that she will slip away in the dark alone.

So I sit here tonight, with heavy heart, typing with one-hand, the other holding my first baby.



The medication takes affect. She suddenly realizes this is not her routine. This hand holding her is not her man.

He is slumbering upstairs. With a gasp, after hours of labored resting with little movement, she stumbles off the couch.

She seems confused. Altered. Suddenly, there is purpose in those amber-hued depths.

She takes the stairs agonizingly halted. One leg, by leg, by leg, by leg.

Despite her struggle, she is determined in her path. I consider picking her up, carrying her to her purpose, but this purpose is what keeps her with us.

Her place is upstairs. In her bed of 12 years. By her man. Her will, her stubbornness will not be overcome by her pain and her struggle with this disease and the clock.

She curls up in her place.

We will see what the morning brings.

If she makes it through the night, we will beg the vet for palliative relief.

Perhaps in the form of pills and patches? Unswervingly, at some point, for a final injection of relief and peace.

She has lived for at least 15 years. She has been a part of our family for almost 14.

Not bad for a dog found starved, parasite ridden, and homeless all those years ago by a young fanciful couple who did not know yet of the baby growing within who would make them a family.

All they knew is a love for this pup that made them a family even before that first pregnancy test. She was their glue.

She has had a good life, I remind myself as do friends.

She has been loved. I know this. She knows this.

I still struggle only with the when? When is it time?

When she stops eating and drinking?



When she cries out in pain although literature says her kind tolerates pain beyond most others?

When she stops wagging her tail?

When she gives me the look everyone talks about and I argued internally today whether I saw?

Or when she stops risking pain, fatigue, and her very breath to get to her people. To her man?



Her name is Grendel. She is a part of our family like any other.

She is loved.

She will always be loved.
__________________________________________________________

Update: Went to vet specialist today. So the X-rays say it's spread all over. Several "baseballs" and several golf ball sized tumors through out her chest cavity. I don't know how this damned malignant melanoma fits inside a slight 38 lb dog. One large tumor is at the "Y" in her trachea which is causing the airway to be compromised. We've got some doggy style morphine to test and see if it makes her more comfortable. There's nothing else to be done. We have only to make her comfortable and release her when her quality of life starts to decline. PB won't accept it. The vet is shocked she has made it 8 months since last diagnosis of nodules in lungs. He gives her 3-4 months tops. Sigh...

26 comments:

Trish said...

Well this is just the saddest thing. I'm crying over a dog that I've never met from the other side of the world. I hope she passes peacefully and secure in the knowledge that she was the luckiest pup in the world.

Anonymous said...

I have been through very similar moments with several dear pets, who I considered my family. It hurts. For me some of the sting has always remained. I guess one of the hardest parts of the whole thing is when the pet is going through that stage your Grendel is in right now. It is almost worse then the final loss, and you have mentioned in this blog most of the reasons why. When I see the eyes of your beautiful dog my heart aches for both her and your entire family. I wish there was something I could think of that might lesson the blow of your pain. I am deeply moved by your dedication to her. I am sorry she and the rest of your family are suffering. I completely understand the significance of her having been the one who made a family out of what was a couple. It adds all kinds of extra pangs. It makes everything so much more complex. You are a strong family, and you have each other to lean on, during these and all your other trials to come. I know this might sound strange right now, but you are very lucky. Remember what ever happens all your decisions were made with love and goodness in your heart. That is always good enough. One cannot do more.
sincerely, Kristina

outdoors2 said...

Tough I know, I awoke one morning to our boxer "Toby" stiff at the foot of the stairs... Rejoice in the memories Scout

Em said...

My heart breaks for you and your family - the moments you are living is what keeps me from having a pet. My mother chastises me for that rationale - look at all the joy pets bring while they're here on Earth.

Remember the joy, I'm positive Grendel does.

Not a Granny said...

Hugs to you and your family!

Beth said...

I'm sorry, Scout.

Dumblond said...

Oh sweetie. I'm so sorry. So very sorry...

JustJennyRebecca said...

There are no words to help you with this, but I am so sorry.

Carrie said...

I'm so sorry. Losing a pet is SO hard.

Molly said...

I am so sorry that the lovely grendel had to experience any pain. She was always the greatest of dogs with the deepest and loveliest of brown eyes. I am glad that we got to spend some time with her last month. love you guys.

Sizzle said...

This post breaks my heart. I lost my dog of 13 years this past year and it's so painful. They are part of our family and love us in such a way that is unmatched.

Thinking of you and hope she finds peace.

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...

I know this pain...I griev my sweet Brandon still...

My heart goes out to you and your family...

Grizzly Kitteh said...

That's possibly the most heartbreaking thing in the world to watch your beloved pet labor through the pain to remain by their human's side.
My heart goes out to you Scout.

ChristiS said...

Having gone through this with our dog only a few months ago, I know your pain and how it wrenches your heart like nothing you've ever had to experience! I know that look, and know the despair and doubt in yourself to make the right decision. Our Sally finally lost control of her bowels and seemed to be horrified at herself. She was no longer able to use her back legs, but she crawled and dragged herself out of her mess. I don't know that I have ever witnessed something so painful or noble as her trying to continue to fight her pain.

I know what you are feeling. I am crying tears with you. I hurt for you. Have comfort in the knowledge the she KNOWS, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she is loved! I pray that she goes peacefully and that you don't have to make the decision to take her in to be put down to put her out of her misery.

Again, I am so sorry, and you and the entire family are in my prayers...It is so, so hard!

Bette said...

Bless you & your family.

Jill @BabyRabies said...

I am in agony for you. Tears are streaming down my face. What a beautiful tribute. What a heartbreaking story. I hope she goes quietly and comfortably. I am so sorry :(

Scout's Honor said...

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for your kind and supportive words. It's nice to know we are not alone on our family's journey.


Update: We went to vet specialist today. So the Xrays say it's spread all over. Several "baseballs" and several golf ball sized tumors through out her chest cavity. I don't know how this damned malignant melanoma fits inside a slight 38 lb dog. One large tumor is at the "Y" in her trachea which is causing the airway to be compromised. We've got some doggy style morphine to test and see if it makes her more comfortable. There's nothing else to be done. We have only to make her comfortable and release her when her quality of life start to decline. PB won't accept it. The vet is shocked she has made it 8 months. He gives her 3-4 months tops. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Crying for your beautiful dog and family. Will be thinking of you.

EddieStarr said...

My Thoughts & Prayers for your family & Grendel. (big hug)

Honeybeast said...

I am going through this too, with my 16-year-old kitty. It is so hard. My best wishes to you and your lovely Grendel and her loving family.

jwill9311 said...

amazingly powerful post.

April said...

This post breaks my heart, but I can totally relate.

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

I am so very sorry. My cats and dogs are my babies, and they are such a part of our family... I can't imagine how hard it must be to see her go through this.

jen @ negative lane said...

We lost our first "family" dog, a giant schnauzer, to lung cancer five years ago, so I have been there. He lasted about four months from his diagnosis and one evening just laid down on his dog bed and died.

The last of what was once our three dogs (also a giant schnauzer) now also has cancer -- we think osteosarcoma -- and we are also struggling with when it is time to let her go. We have been "lucky" in a strange way that the first two each died at a time of their own choosing (the other being Oscar, my avatar buddy and the one who was most "my baby" of all the dogs), before they suffered too much, and so we've never had to make the decision.

My dad and my sister-in-law both separately gave me identical advice, having each been through this themselves. They said when she no longer acts herself, when she is not the same dog you always knew, then it is time. They each told me that when it go to that point, I would know it was time.

I'm so very sorry that you are going through this.

Mari said...

This some of the best writing I've seen from you. Poetic really, and why not? It's huge.
Hugs,
Mar

Scout's Honor said...

You guys are the best. The best.

I cannot tell you how hard this has been and it really helps to hear your compassionate comments and sharing your own stories. '

Losing a loved one, furry or human, is so hard. It's compounded when you feel you have to make the call because you furry loved one can't.

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The Good and The Bad and The Pragmatic

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