Writing Erratically, Unedited, Grief and All

Today, I see myself as a whirring mass of atoms…mostly space, appearing solid. I’m the farthest thing from solid. Three days ago, on Sunday, October 16th, 2022, at 1:06 pm, I let my best boy go. Bo, my precious beagle of nearly 14 years, was simply too tired. Religiously filling out the quality of life scale intended to offer quantifiable ‘evidence’ of decline, didn’t. He still wanted to eat, though picky. He didn’t spend time away from me. He didn’t hide in odd places. He wasn’t incontinent. He was still interested in walks, his favorite squeaky donut and anyone coming in the front door. He was still walking just fine. He could see, understand, and hadn’t lost the ability to respond to the hundreds (?) of prompts he’d come to learn in a decade and a half. I could go on about all the signs of life still present in Bo. It’s what made the decision to let him rest even more excruciating. I’d been told by his ‘hospice vet’ that I’d know when it was time, that he’d show me he was done. (it’s a thing, a hospice vet, and it’s not as bougie as it sounds.) Once the animal hospital told us on September 29th, 18 days prior, that there was nothing that could be done about the large mass on his spleen, and that it was a matter of when, not if, it WOULD hemorrhage, ending in a traumatic fatality, they provided Dr. Karin’s information, so that palliative care could begin and Bo wouldn’t have to endure any more trips to the vet. The following two days were quiet. Bo spent most of the day sleeping, lifting his head to check that I was in the room. I was never more than 3 feet away. The third day, when I took him to the backyard to pee, he spotted a squirrel and off he ran. Ran. Squirrel successfully treed, he finished his business, snooped the perimeter of the yard, and made his way back inside, like 25 thousand times before. ( 14 years, going out an average of 5 times per day is 25k+, in case you’re wondering how I arrived at that number) Squirrel interruption ends here, literally and figuratively. I dared not let Bo navigate the 3 steps at the back door, for fear he’d put excess pressure on his abdominal muscles. I didn’t let him jump onto his spot on the ottoman, I lifted him like thin glass onto anything taller than his legs were long. I avoided touching his belly. I kept the house quieter than normal. I added more cushions and blankets to the floors in every room, so he could stop and have a place to lay, wherever he was. He woke up at 1:30am to go outside, and that internal clock hasn’t stopped. I wake up within 2-3 minutes of 1:30, every night. Only, there is no Bo, no reason to go out. No sound of his feet on the hardwood floor. No lapping of water before we went back to bed. No staring at the fridge for a bite of pineapple, or bacon or any of the dozens of midnight snacks he was now allowed to have. There is no stepping over all his favorite places to lay, which happened to be in the flow of traffic… a doorway, the middle of the hall, on the bathmat, against the shower door. There’s already less hair on my clothes, more time in my day, less purpose and meaning than I could have ever imagined. I can’t seem to stay ahead of dehydration from the tears that have a mind of their own. My nose and eyes are sore. The countertop where his supplements and meds were has been cleared, as I couldn’t bear to see them, anymore. His harness is at the front door, where I left it Sunday, after I took it off of him for the last time. I haven’t swept up the fur that found its way into little clumps at the edge of the furniture, a chore I’ve done thousands of times. I go hours without saying a word when I’m home alone, unaware, until now, how much I talked to him. I thought I heard him, twice now, trotting down the hallway, and the “lasts” and “nevers” bring a new wave of tears. I washed the containers of the food I’d cooked, trying to find anything he liked enough to eat more than a few bites before walking away. I put his favorite ball on the bookshelf, next to his tags. His paw print and clipping of fur from Sunday are displayed, and are the closest thing I have to reaching my hand out to pet him, holding those, instead. The side of my leg is cold, where he’d be, right now, pressed against me while I write and he finished sleeping until breakfast. And, my fridge has never been so loud. The silence is like an arena full of screaming fans on mute. You know there should be sound, but there is none. And, I am awestruck that a 25lb beagle boy could leave a hole that would rival any findings of NASA. My heart hurts, and I realize how blessed I am to feel this level of pain. This morning, I am thinking of others who have known this void, and my heart cracks a little more. And, I’m thinking of those who never knew the love of a dog, and that feels, by far, the greater of the two tragedies. Rest in sweet peace, my permanent puppy, Bobo- Nov 2008- Oct 2022.

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