NOTE: If you choose not to read this series I understand. I will resume normal posts on December 8th.
This is part 2 of the toughest post I’ve ever put up on this blog. As you read it you will see why: it details the final week in the life of my beloved dog, Maisie. This is set to go up on the web during the week after we have her put down. I know I won’t be up to writing anything new for a few days.
I started writing this on Friday of the week before her death. When I woke up Saturday I knew there was much more to say and decided to make it a journal of my thoughts and feelings during that last week of our lives together. Her life is so intertwined with mine that where her gray butt begins and my gray beard ended was often indistinguishable. One big lump on the couch, one snoring mass on the bed, one contented ball of fur and drool on the carpet, and one love so deep that my head explodes when I think about it now.
Please hold us in your prayers. There are three grieving souls at this minute and one who’s gone on to wait ahead for us. Because if Jesus can count the feathers on a bird, I know He certainly has a fresh bowl of kibble and some water for a Sheltie. He’ll take good care of her until we can join her down the road.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 24th, 2012
After a long night of agonizing over my decision I got home from work exhausted. I needed to get some sleep because a long day on the Santa chair was going to start at 10 am and I didn’t get home until 5:20. After a trip outside to conduct business, the three of us in the dog-pack headed back inside to lay down on the rug and share some quality time.
I think Ed got tired of me quietly crying after a while, and he tried to cheer me up. I realized I was just shot and went to bed. It felt good, I needed that sleep.
Five minutes later Frankenstein showed up and he smelled like cats. That’s what we call it when Maisie starts screaming at the top of her lungs. It never fails that you will find her sitting in the middle of the living room, staring at the staircase when you come down to find out what is going on. It’s ironic because on Thursday I remarked to my wife that she hadn’t done that in months. I guess she didn’t want to check out of the program without a reminder of how bloody annoying she can be at times.
I don’t know if it’s dementia, her tinnitus, or it really is Frankenstein covered in cat smell. But the only cure we’ve found is to take her upstairs and park her in my room. She immediately calms down. And it worked again.
I woke up at ten and reached down to turn off my alarm. There was a furry little face there to greet my hand. I just stroked her nose and thought about all the times I’d awoken to her next to my bed. It is a comforting feeling and it was bittersweet this time, knowing I would only experience it a few more times at most.
I went about my business and then got my suit on for the day’s visit to some new customers. I couldn’t let my personal trouble overshadow Santa’s work on this Saturday. When I got ready I gathered up my girl and took one final picture with my reindeer.
I had a hard time not crying, but it was hurting less today. Now I was trying to capture some good times before the really bad one comes on Thursday.
Off to my visits. I managed to lose myself in the joy of the children for the afternoon. I made it for a few hours before it dawned on me that I hadn’t been thinking about her. My wife came to my final appearance of the day- that’s rare. She lets me be Santa and does her own thing. But today it was obvious that the looming death of our friend was weighing her down.
Saturday was a day filled with portents and reminders of death. My last visit was with my friend Mike at the Best Steak House. His dad George is soon to pass and that was obviously hurting my friend quite a bit. When I left the Steak House I took off to visit a fellow Santa, Ken, who was in the final days of hospice. The joy of being Santa was tinged with sadness today as I watched people I’ve known for years departing this world.
My little hurt with a dog was so much less than these fine people and their families are experiencing with the death of a human being. And perhaps it helped me to gain a bit of perspective. God’s got a place for all of them, and I’ve got to let go. But it’s the end of another long day and I need to get on to other things.
I’m looking forward to Sunday – my girl is going to sleep on the bed with me. That’s making me tear up a bit. I’ve never had a dog that slept on the bed as much as her. It’s a special gift from God. I love the feeling of her warm butt in my face when I wake up. Well, not really, but the feeling of her gently snoring under my hand as I drift off to sleep is so precious and real that I can feel it now.