This has proven to be a long, long day.
It began with a call to the title loan company; “Yeah, I know, I’m late…I’ll be there Friday. You’ll take the car” (frankly, right now, I could really give a shit), “fine, it’ll be harder for me to get there Friday. Great, I’ll see you Friday.”
Second call. “Yes, this is ‘Sweet Dreams’”
“My pup is nineteen years old, she’s in a lot of pain, we’ve increased her pain medication but there is a limit, her kidneys are going and she has become aggressive…it’s the pain I know…she is the sweetest thing.” I listened to the comforting voice on the other end…it was no comfort. “Yes, this evening if you can. I want her home when it happens and I want to be here for her…my wife will be shopping.”
‘Sweet Dreams’ is arriving at 2000. I’ve put new shades in the living room for the octogenarians, washed and hung the valances, changed all the sheets, washed and folded all the laundry, swept the garage…its 1430. The Duchess has been asleep for the last couple of hours; when I check in on her it’s a slight whimper and a twitch of the legs and then she’s quiet.
I want her to wake and…and play and think she’s a cat again and jump to the back of the couch and sniff everyone’s hair. I want her to go to yard sales with me and pick out her new toy. I want her to light up the faces of every child in the neighborhood.
I want her to not hurt, not be confused when she enters a familiar room not attack the cats the octogenarians.
‘Sweet Dreams’ will be arriving early, time for one more short walk, one more talk sitting at the top of the stairs; discussing plans for the day leaning close ending with a kiss on the top of the head and the Duchess looking at me like I was a nut (she has always been very perceptive).
Everyone’s off to Wally-World for whipped cream and marshmallows, winter pj’s and scarves.
The knock at the door. “Hello, please come in.”
“We need you to sign a few documents before we proceed.” She said in a most comforting tone, it wasn’t comforting.
Duchess cried for a second with the first injection, she came over to me, sitting on the cold kitchen floor, it was the closest I could be. With her head resting on my knee I scratched her ears and chin just as I had done at the top of the stairs, every morning for sixteen years, every time she allowed me an opportunity to rest on our long walks. I felt cheated in a way; she was three when we found her, I wanted those three years of comfort of belonging now.
“She’s asleep now and in no pain. Would you like a moment alone before we proceed to the next phase?” She said in the most comforting voice (still not working).
“That would make it harder I think, no, let’s proceed.”
A few moments later I moved her head onto the pale blue blanket under her and struggled to stand, when I could lift my gaze from the Duchess both vets stood with arms outstretched. Two long, warm hugs and I was starting to feel comforted.
She was wrapped in the pale blue blanket and placed on a stretcher and taken to the van, one last kiss goodbye…they left.
My phone rang, “Michael here.” “What was I supposed to get besides Mayo?” “Marshmallows and whipped cream.” “Dad found a jacket…” I hung up.
Christ, I wanted to cry. I want to cry, wanted/still want to break down make a fool of myself.
And I feel her brushing against my leg, hear her scratching at the carpet to ask for a treat and barking and dancing about waiting to go out and play with the children in the street. She’s not gone…yet, just a big piece of me.