Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Sound of Silence

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.... - Pablo Neruda 

I wasn’t going to write anything about Dexter’s passing. I didn’t think that I could.

But yesterday, I woke up to this in my email inbox….

….and I was like, OK. Fine. I can do this, I think.

I can’t go into great detail about Thursday. But I will say that, despite the fact that it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life, I have a lot to be thankful for. Dexter only had the one really bad day. Until Thursday he was eating and drinking water and walking. Thursday, his last day, was a bad day. I didn’t realize it until I went to wake him up to take him outside and realized he was too weak to make it out.

Every day at 5:30 PM, Dexter would wait by the door for his daddy. And on his last day with us, he waited for his daddy to get home. I texted Mr. W and told him he’d better come home from work, and he did. Given the nature of Dexter’s disease, we still weren’t sure if it was the end or if it was just a bad day….but just in case, I gave them some time alone together.

And before Mr. W got home, I cuddled with my sweet boy and I thanked him for making me a mother. I have always believed that parents of animals are just as much parents as those with humans, but seeing as I’d never had a human child, I didn’t know it to be true. I do now. I was every bit that boy’s mama. I didn’t realize just how deeply we were connected until I lost him. But he was my son in every sense of the word. Losing him hurts just as badly as losing the baby I’m carrying would. I know some people won’t be able to relate to that, and their pets are just pets, but it wasn’t like that for me.

We spoke to the vet, had a tough conversation and looked up at home euthanasia options, but before we could make final arrangements, our boy left us his own terms. It was actually very peaceful. He didn’t fight it. He let go with us both by his side, holding him, holding each other, telling him we love him. It was agonizing, but we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

May 1, 2014 was the best day of my entire life. Holding my husband’s hand and looking at the little baby girl we have on the way, talking about her name, wondering what she’ll be like…. it was amazing and surreal.

And now I can say, without a doubt, that May 8, 2014 was the worst day of my life. Again, I have a lot to be grateful for, and I can accept that it was Dexter’s time to go. I’m so glad he didn’t suffer and I’m so glad we both got to be there. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt worse than any pain I’ve ever felt. He was so much a part of our family, so ingrained into our daily routines, that having him ripped from us was, and still is, devastating. I’ve spent weeks trying to prepare myself for this, and the truth is, there was just no way to prepare.

At night when my pregnant bladder wakes me up, I can’t go back to sleep without the comfort of his snores. Every time I emerge from the shower and he’s not waiting by the door guarding me (seriously, had he seen Psycho? Where did he think I was going to go?), my heart hurts. Every time I walk through my front door and the entryway still smells like him, I lose it. I keep reaching down to pet him as I work or give him a piece of food while I eat. I know these things will fade in time, but then it’s going to hurt because I’ll miss the routines themselves.

People have been so kind. I keep hearing that he was lucky to have us and that we gave him a good life. And I believe we did….but the truth is, we could have done so much better, and we know it. I wish I’d taken him on more walks. I wish I’d trained him better from the time he was a puppy, but I was just a stupid puppy myself. I wish I’d really understood that we were his whole life and acted accordingly. Of course, in the end, we did the best we could, and we had lots of good times. I don’t think we were bad parents. But we could have been better.

But he loved us anyway. No matter what we did, that dog loved us unconditionally. Mr. W and I spent Friday talking about everything we did right and wrong with him and how we don’t want to half-ass it as parents. And we won’t. I know that now.

I have known my husband for almost 14 years, but I was still surprised by the strength he displayed as he went through this with me. I have a partner who was strong enough to comfort our sweet baby boy in his final moments, to carry his lifeless body to the car and into the vet’s office, and who was also strong enough to allow himself to fall apart in my arms when it was all over. He is already the best father in the world and I love and respect him more now than I ever have. I absolutely would not be able to get through this without him.

This is a bittersweet Mother’s Day for me. I wish I didn’t have to lose my boy so close to it...we were going to have ice cream and cuddle on the couch tomorrow. But it has allowed me to reflect so much on motherhood that it’s almost like Dexter’s final lesson to me was his biggest and best. And I am so thankful that I will never have a Mother’s Day where I am not a mom. Timing is a funny thing, and I never imagined that letting my guard down and getting pregnant a bit before we’d intended would be the best thing I ever could have done.  

This will get easier, but there will never be a day where I don’t miss my boy. But it was worth it to get to be his mama. Even knowing the outcome, I’d do it all again. I hope he would too.


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