Wherein I talk about grieving… The jump is there so you can skip reading yet another post about dogs and dying if you so choose.
When we got to the vet’s we were the only people there. I was relieved. Casey lay on the floor and smiled up at me with his usual trust. I make it all better for him, you see. I always have. As they were getting our paperwork ready (“do you authorise us to dispose of the body?”) a nice middle-aged lady walked in and saw him on the floor. “Aren’t you pretty?” she said. I immediately lost it and found myself in this stranger’s arms as she held me and comforted me and told me of all the dogs she’d “put down” (I cannot stand that phrase). She just held me and let me cry. Which is good, because when the doctor sheepishly said “I’m so very sorry” and carried Casey back, my first impulse was to scream and throw myself between the dog and the door to his death. Thanks to the strange lady who held me, I only screamed inside and my dog was able to die in dignity instead of confusion.
Friday after we left Casey at the Vet’s office, Tim took me to Salsarita’s. I realised I hadn’t had anything to eat for three days and very little to drink at all on Friday. Sitting at the booth in Salsarita’s I couldn’t figure out how to cut, chew and swallow my food. I guess I went into shock. Tim brought the car around and helped me to it. I laid down in the front seat and stared off into space. When we got to the house, my heart broke hard again as Quinn ran into the garage, expecting his brother to be returned to him and “all better”. I stood at the garage door weeping and repeating “he didn’t come back” over and over again.
Once inside I stripped off my clothes. Removing my bra felt like taking off a straightjacket and I started gasping for air. I took a phenergan for the nausea and lied down in my own bed for the first time in three weeks. (I’d been sleeping on the basement floor with Casey.) I drifted off into a bit of nothingness and felt some degree of peace–only to wake up a few hours later, totally unhinged.
I have never felt such hollowness, such aloneness and such despair in my entire life. I don’t even know if I know how to write about it without sounding either trite or florid. All I could see were places where he wasn’t. All I could hear was the sound of him not barking, not breathing, not scratching the floor. I realised that I could live another fifty years–more time than I’d already lived in total–and never ever even ONCE hold him again or kiss his face or pat his head. I wanted so badly in that moment to just die in order to be with him. I screamed and choked on tears and writhed in darkness. My poor husband sat, arms around me, and let me scream and cry. “This is the worst of it,” he told me over and over. “Just grieve. It’s okay.” I kept yelling his name with my whole soul and begging for him to come back. “All I want is to have him back. That’s all I want in the world.”
That was the hardest night in my life. After some prescription sedatives I was able to finally sleep.
Saturday was sunny and bright and healing. We went to the Hermitage library and the Downtown library. I had made reservations for The Melting Pot, knowing that it was dark, private and nourishing. And we had a coupon. When I made the dinner plans and they asked me if it was for a special occasion I told them “we had to put our dog to sleep” and they assured me they’d take good care of us. They gave us what they assured was the best and most private table in the restaurant. Throughout the meal they were kind and thoughtful without being intrusive. The husband and I were able to just sit and talk and eat. We talked about our best memories of Casey, about the truth of his fading that we hadn’t allowed ourselves to notice. We talked about the little upsides–how my health would be less compromised by having one dog instead of two, how spontaneous vacations would be more of a possibility now that our Separation Anxiety Dog was ultimately separated from us. The fondue kept our hands and minds busy. It was good.
Today–Sunday–I’ve been in excruciating physical pain, with every nerve on fire and every joint filled with cement. The adrenalin that kept me functional for the last weeks of Casey’s life has receded and left me in an RA/Lupus flare. I don’t generally notice, though.
My heart pain has subsided to a dull roar, and I look at pictures to remind myself of the time I hit 21 at the tables and came home with the kindest-hearted dog in the world. I am grateful to God for making this hard time as kind as possible. God allowed Casey to live through our 7 months of unemployment and the consolation we had from Casey then kept both of us sane. God allowed Casey to pass from this earth on the sunniest, springiest of days with not a cloud in the sky.