Today, March 14th, has been the longest and strangest day. Even after losing an hour during daylight savings time, the clock is moving slower than it has in many years. At 3pm this evening we will be saying goodbye to my best friend in the whole wide world. His arthritis got the better of him.
He could beat terminal cancer like a champ but for some reason he was no match for the inflammation in his spine and legs. We’ve tried everything, from turmeric to acupressure, chiropractic care to cetyl myristoleate to vibrational work. He has simply been getting progressively weaker, moving more slowly, grunting and groaning so much it feels cruel to ignore. This morning he refused his breakfast for the first time in four years. I had to doctor it up with some chicken we had in the fridge from a big feast we made for him yesterday. We’ve been planning this since Friday and he’s been well aware. He’s had a cheeseburger, a baked chicken, lots of squeaky toys, corned beef and bacon all weekend long. Our plan is to take him to the woods for one last good long sniff and stroll and then we will return to meet our appointment.
This morning on our second walk of the day, he stood for what seemed like an eternity at the corner of our street, just staring and looking around. Real tears flowed from his eyes and I wiped them away with my fingers, crying with him. It wasn’t a heavy, steady stream, but he cried none-the-less. I know that dogs aren’t supposed to shed tears the way people do but I’ve now witnessed it, and now I have no doubt. He’s aware of what’s happening.
As we were leaving for home after visiting my parents in TN last January, Bart went to each one separately and told them goodbye before getting into the car. In the past he couldn’t contain himself panicking and rushing to the car to leave for home, but this time was so different. He was casual and tender. He was saying farewell and deep down I knew that was what he was doing. I forgot this until yesterday when I told my mom on the phone that today we are saying goodbye.
He has helped so many others with cancer go a different route successfully. Many are still going strong. And others I have talked to were not so successful, but so many often come to me as a last ditch effort, and no matter how hard we try, no one gets out of this life alive.
I want to thank so many of you for your kind words and encouragement. I will continue to share Bart’s story on Facebook, Twitter and also through an occasional blog post. I had hoped to have something deeply profound to share in this message, but at the moment I am a little numb. Bart is breathing heavily next to me and it isn’t even noon yet. I will share this message after he is gone and maybe after some time has passed I will write more about the experience. For now I will just say thank you for cheering us on and being a part of a community that has made sharing his journey so worth it.
To your love and health. May peace be with you all in all areas of your life.
Bart and Sue