I didn’t really like you much when you first came to live with us. You were annoying and disruptive to my peaceful existence. The house was all mine after Fred died. At times, it might have been a little lonely but I really didn’t mind. It isn’t easy growing old. I was 13 and a half when you arrived and my bones ached, my insides didn’t work right and I had to take pills with my food. One day, you’ll understand how it feels.
As obnoxious as you were, I have to admit that you brought me back to my days as a young pup. I guess it was fun romping at the beach with you and taking your chew toys. I give you credit, as much as I tried to intimidate you, you never gave up trying to make me your friend. Thank you for that.
You’re looking good, kid. A solid 77 lbs, you’re probably full grown. I bet you’re finally neutered, too. Now that you’re all grown up, you need to know what’s expected of you:
Bark at strangers. It’s your number one job. Heck, bark at everyone. It’s hard to know whose strange and who isn’t.
Walk in front of Mom. You’re there to protect her no matter what she says.
Always, always be the first one in the car so you don’t get left behind!
Cuddle often. It’s the only reason Mom lets you on the big bed.
When you have to go number 2, go off the trail so Mom doesn’t have to pick it up (even though she does anyway).
Eat fast. Someone might take it from you.
If Mom gets the watering hose, RUN!!
Practice your “sad puppy” look. You’ll get more treats.
Chew the furniture. You’ll get more toys.
Give lots of hugs and kisses. Mom will give them back.
It took two of us, both Fred and I, to take care of Mom. It’s up to you now, kid. If you need some help, just look at our pictures on the mantle and we’ll help you figure out what to do.
Looking back, I guess it’s a good thing Mom got you when she did.
Fred has stopped eating, except for a treat now and then. I think he knows that was the sign I needed to let go. He has no control of eliminations but it is mostly liquid now. Thank goodness for pee pads.
As I contemplated what to do, a friend suggested I talk with Fred about it. It is so simple. Talk to Fred. So, we talked. Ethel and I talked, too. After all, we’re in this together. That’s when Fred stopped eating. He still sleeps peacefully most of the time but he is wasting away, so skinny.
I called Doctor Jason from Lap of Love. He is amazingly understanding and compassionate as I deliberate over when to help Fred pass. What else would one expect from hospice, a hospice for pets. How cool is that?
Music has kept me company the past couple weeks. As we move into this coming week, I want to share words from a song by Sara Bareilles that will be comforting me and giving me the courage to let go:
So, here we go, Bluebird. Gather your strength and rise up. Oh, let him go, Bluebird. Ready to fly, you and I. Here we go…
I can’t help but think “just 5 days more…” but I don’t want to do that. I want to live in the now and cherish every moment that I have with Fred and with Ethel. We don’t know what the future holds and there is no sense worrying about it. I feel the same about regretting past mistakes. It’s a waste of energy. All we have, the best we have, is to live each day as it comes; awake, alive and ever present to where it takes us.
Fred had a good night last night. He slept until 4am. The night before, we were up 3 times to go outside. Sometimes he can get up on his own and other times he needs a little help. I have to be careful how I lift him or I will squeeze the pee out of him. I know, it sounds gross. I’m no stranger anymore to cleaning up messes. It makes me think about what caregivers go through with aging loved ones. It is easy to get resentful when our lives are consumed by taking care of someone else. Chaplain Michael Byrd says, “Our greatest frustrations come from unmet expectations.” So, we just need to change our expectations. And, remember to take care of ourselves. And, cherish every moment we have with those we love.
I have a book of letters written by people to their dogs. Starting this blog at this time, it seems right to begin with a letter to my boy, Fred. In a week, we’ll be saying goodbye.
Dear Fred, my loving boy.
We’re almost at the end of our time together in this life. Still, your fur is such a creamy white and so super soft. Just the other night, three ladies adored you as you walked to them in the dark. They don’t know how you struggle to make your legs work or how they give out when you stand too long. You are so good at hiding your pain and the embarrassment when your bladder gives way before we make it outside. Someone suggested that you know I’m not ready to let go and so you keep it from me how much you hurt.
Was Ella right when she said your bunny like ears stand out so you can hear us better? Now, you fear the step on the curb that you can’t seem to see anymore. Sleep is interrupted by uncontrolled movement of your bowel and you slip and slide instead of getting up on your feet. It’s time, isn’t it?
We made it through this past year. You made it through, with me, knowing how much I needed you. It’s okay now, Fred. I’m better now and it’s time to think of you. I thought you’d tell me when it was time but I guess I have to be the one to decide. Only a pup like you would give such love to a person like me. I’ve loved you so much.
We’re a family – you, me and Ethel. She and I will miss you terribly. Our memories of being together for so long and through so many good and challenging times will fill our hearts forever. For the rest of our time together, we’ll just love and cherish each other and make more memories to fill the void that will be there without you. My sweet, sweet boy. I love you and will miss you.