On March 7th my husband, our daughter and I drove slowly through the snow on our way to the vet's office. Our beloved doggie, Michie, swaddled in blankets, was cradled on my lap. The kidney failure we had managed to forestall for a whole year had finally caught up with her and in less than twenty-four hours she had stopped eating and drinking, and had four seizures. The day before I had spent hours cradling her in my arms, her warm, furry body slumped against me like a sleeping child, and we gazed into each others eyes as I alternately talked to her, prayed over her, and cried uncontrollably. This morning when I gently gathered her into my arms she leaned away from me, and by this I understood that she was ready to go and needed to get about the business of dying without the burden of my grief encumbering her.
My son and I adopted Michie from an ASPCA adoption clinic in October of 2003, when she was almost seven years old. She has been my constant companion since that time, coming to work with me every day to the delight of my art students until my daughter was born in August 2008. She was my parents granddoggy, and an only dog, in fact, in our extended family. She would curl up near my brother on his hospital bed. She worked my mom and dad for treats. My dad made her special roast beef, which he cubed and kept in the freezer for her. My mom spared no expense on organic doggie treats, and I cooked all of her meals. At the time I thought I would have no more children. She was baby sized and didn't care how much I hugged and kissed or baby talked her or smelled the top of her head. She was my furry child. She was a big deal, you better believe it. She had the greatest smile too. She made everyone happy.
My grief over her loss has been enormous. Her dish on the floor, her favorite spot on the couch, the nest she made in the sewing room of ribbon and fabric, cut me off at the knees. All I can see right now is her absence. All I can feel is how much I miss her. Life without her is surreal. I feel like I'm waiting for her to walk back into the room.
I managed to pull it together for her, because after all it was about her, her death. I thanked her for the gift of sharing her life with us and the lessons she had taught to us, and I told her I understood that she needed to go. I told her I loved her. She went very peacefully. We brought her back home and laid her on her blanket in the living room while we made her a beautiful box, and a pillow and blanket. We will have to wait for the ground to thaw before we can bury her here in our yard. We will make it special, and plant something beautiful on her grave. Maybe by then I will be more at peace. Maybe I will see all of the beauty instead of the pain. She so deserves to be joyfully celebrated: valiant heart, patient soul, independent spirit, strong will, playful romp, buoyant walk. Beautiful smile. Floppy ears.