I obliged him immediately, because I know this is his last breakfast. He doesn't know that, so it's just another breakfast to him.
The last 24 hours have been surreal. Last supper. Last time eating popcorn. Last everything. We know, and the girls will hug him with tears in their eyes, but he is oblivious and just wants down to sniff the floor for more popcorn.
The girls planned to sleep together in the same bed with him last night so that it was fair that they both sleep with him the last time. But every time they tried to shut their eyes they got sad about missing that snuggle time with him, so they didn't fall asleep. They eventually ended up in our bed and I in Lindsey's with the dog, who let out stinky toots all night from all the treats he'd been fed that evening.
I have been on this grief journey before. I didn't know when the journey would start, but once it did it was the most difficult time of my life. It seems so strange to pick the day to start that journey to mourn your dog. To make an appointment with someone to end the life of a creature you love so much, and then pay her to do it. Weird.
I know what to expect. The emptiness when you come home at the end of the day. The times you ask, "Where's Dax?" then realize, he's not here and never will be. Re-remembering every morning that you don't have a dog to feed anymore and getting sad about it all over again. Sitting on the couch and wishing you had a warm little body to snuggle next to you. Having a bowl of popcorn and seeing the kernels that accidentally drop to the floor remain uneaten.
Dax is snuggling with me right now, and it seems odd to be sitting here writing this. How do you share last moments with a dog? At this stage in the game he does not want someone to pet or kiss him, he just wants to be next to you, finishing out his night's sleep with contented snores. (Which is what he's doing right now.)
I share my last moments with him by being that warm body that he wants to curl up next to. By writing my thoughts about what an amazing dog he has been for our family, so patient and willing to put up with our girls' shenanigans.
|5:50 a.m., February 15, post-breakfast snooze|
He loved chasing bubbles. One of my favorite videos is of him and Lindsey when she was just a baby and we discovered for the first time that he loved to chase bubbles. We would blow the bubbles at Lindsey, and Dax would run up and bite them as quickly as he could before they got to her. He would leap and jump and twirl around to catch as many as possible. Lindsey chortled that baby laugh that is so funny to hear and both Wayne and I were doubled over in laughter, tears squeezing out of our eyes from the sight and sound. We finally had to stop when the bubbles began frothing from the sides of his mouth, his eyes dazed and wild with obsession.
Now, he can't see the bubbles to chase them and couldn't chase them if he saw them. He doesn't "hoover" the floor clean like he used to, because he can't see the bits of food, even though he can smell them.
His medical issues are numerous and challenging, and we are simply putting off the inevitable by making him suffer through the pain of moving his arthritic joints and the embarrassment of not being able to control his bladder. (And he is embarrassed, too, you can tell.)
I will be there with him in his last moments, to provide familiarity and comfort. I have to do this, because I cannot imagine not being there for him in his final moments, when he's always been there for me.
Wish me strength for this afternoon.