“When you don’t want to feel…death can seem like a dream. But, seeing death…really seeing it, makes dreaming about it f*cking ridiculous.” – Suzanna Kaysen
Today I had to say goodbye to a friend. Her name was Maisel. She was a 13-year-old maltese dog that I was fostering. She’d been pulled from a crowded shelter who would have otherwise euthanized her. Her rescuer thought she was giving Maisel another chance at life.
I only had her in my home for a week. She had clearly been through some neglect but she was very sweet. She had a good week with me. She went on walks, ate treats, received cuddles, and hung out with my crew. Still, had I known that it would be her last week, I would have done more. I wish that I had. I wish that I’d taken her to the beach and bought her an ice cream cone. (Yes, I know ice cream is bad for dogs but if I’d known it was her last week…)
A few nights ago she began having seizures. I’ve fostered a seizure dog before, but these were worse. Way worse. One after the other and she started foaming at the mouth, so I rushed her to the ER. They admitted her and told me that they’d get her stabilized and then call me when I could pick her up.
They got her stabilized, but then she went into even more seizures while medicated. They were more worried now and kept her overnight. They ran a lot of tests on her the next day. Turns out she had cancer and a possible brain tumor. There really was no other right choice but to let her go. It wasn’t my decision of course, but it was still the right one. I’m so thankful that the owner of the rescue let me be the one to be with her when she passed.
Tonight I sat in the room with her. One of her eyes was cloudy and ‘gone’ and she couldn’t move her body at all, just her head. I let her rest her head on my leg and I pet her and told her that everything was going to be okay, that she would be free of her pain soon but that my door was always open and she could visit us anytime. The vet administered the drug and within seconds she was gone. No ‘big moment.’ One second she was resting with her head in my lap, and the next moment, the head in my lap was just… the body that used to hold this dog’s soul. I still can’t really process it. It doesn’t seem real. I only knew her for a week, but while in my home, her well-being was my responsibility. I know logically that what was wrong with her started long before I ever met her, there was no way I could have known and nothing more that I could have done for her, but knowing that logically and feeling like I should have done more are two different things. They battle with each other inside of me. I’m trying to remind myself to be thankful that she had one week in a loving home, one good solid week, and she didn’t die alone and afraid in a scary shelter. We were at least able to do that for her.
I’m also fostering a neonatal kitten, a very tiny runt who was only two days old when she was brought to me. She is now about a week old. She is still very small, but she’s eating every two hours and her tiny eyes just opened. She reminds me so much of Rue when she was a kitten, although thankfully she’s not sick like Rue was. She’s just very little. “Solo” (she was a ‘solo’ kitten left behind by a mama when she gave birth on someone’s porch and then left this one behind) is so tiny that she fits in the palm of my hand. And so helpless. So delicate. Getting an abandoned newborn kitten through the first week of life is touch-and-go and often they just don’t make it. I’m so damned grateful right now that she is making it. Life is fleeting. It comes with no guarantees, and no assurances that the assembly was done correctly by the manufacturer. Sometimes we are here and then the next moment, we are not, and yet the world continues, other life goes on. It doesn’t really seem fair. Why doesn’t the world stop and pause and acknowledge the passing of someone who was loved? I suppose though, if it did, the world would be on pause forever. A sweet dog died in my arms tonight, and brand new life is cradled in the palm of my hand now with a soft purr as she waves her teeny-tiny paws in the air grasping for my finger because like all babies, she is soothed by touch. I know that I can’t keep this baby forever. I have two cats and they have an agreement of coexistance with each other and with all of the dogs, but I honestly don’t feel like they’re willing to accept a third cat. “Two’s company, three’s a crowd.” I know that when she’s big enough, strong enough, and old enough, I’ll have to let Solo find a forever family of her own. But right now, I need her as much as she needs me. I need this brand new life to remind me that there’s a reason for death. We live, we die, and the world continues to go on. My heart is connected to so many little lives and it hurts and burns when loss happens, but it also fills up when they look up at you and know that you’re doing all that you can to keep them safe.
And the world continues to spin. And life continues to go on.
RIP, Maisel. I don’t know what happens to us after we die, but I’m glad that I got to know you at the end of your life. You were, and are, the goodest girl.