Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Best.

The phone chimed that morning. Woke me up.

But I already knew what it was.

I didn't need to be told.

* * * * * 

The evening prior I drove to my parent's house to celebrate my cousin's birthday. After the obligatory meet and greet, I asked where Lily, my little sister's dog of 8 years, was. She's in the bathroom on the floor, they said. Scrunching my face, I headed to the back of the house and down the dark hallway.

Turning the light on, there she was. Unmoving, all except for her glassy black eye, which squinted and looked at me from the side. Just vague interest in my presence, nothing more. No barking or yelping. I walked in and crouched over her, reaching down to pet her where she's always liked it; around the ears, and under the chin. Her skin felt hard and there were lumps hidden under the fur. She took a deep breath and groaned out. The only movement was a weak attempt at a flinch when I'd pet her nose, as if it hurt to the touch.

"The hell," I said, as I walked back into the living room.

They didn't know what was wrong specifically, but she'd been in pain for about a year now. Limping. Lack of energy. Slowing down. Not as playful. Couple of surgeries to remove a tumor. The last few weeks she hadn't even been eating, relying on I.V. treatments for nourishment. The tests were apparently coming back tomorrow.

But I knew. We all did. No one needed to be told.

* * * * * 

Lily was a crazy playful dog. She never once bit or snapped or growled or... anything a dog normally does. Ever. Her entire life. The only time she opened her mouth was to hold a tennis ball, eat food, or bark as she blindly chased water. She didn't walk; she pranced. And she didn't run; she bounced, with her long fur coat bouncing along with her. She never over-zealously licked your face, never overstayed her welcome, never woke you up with noises, and never destroyed furniture. She somehow knew when it was okay to hop up on the bed and lay next to you to comfort you... and when to just stay on the floor to protect you.

She never needed to be told.

* * * * *

So we drove the quiet drive to the animal hospital. Lindsey held her the whole way there. Inside, we waited and were finally called. My father, mother and sister and I circled around Lily, lying on the table barely breathing, and cried. We pet her in silence, all lost in our own thoughts.

When the door opened and the time came, my sister realized she couldn't watch what had t happen and left with my father. The doctor asked if we were ready. No one said a word. Because, really, how do you say "yes" to that.

I was in charge of holding Lily as the doctor pushed the needle in. Unlike Jag, my cat, Lily wasn't spastic. There was no jerking around. No scuffle. No fight. No frantic movements of confusion or resistance. Five full seconds in, she softly raised her head, feeling the new sensation flowing inside of her.

And then, just as peacefully... she slowly laid her head down. As if she was simply... deciding to sleep.

I held her closer, feeling her one last breath fill her boney little body; a deep and relaxing one.

And I felt her let go.

No one in the room moved for quite a while - neither my mother sitting on a stool by the wall, or me hugging Lily. I think we were secretly waiting for her to bark and pop up, hearing the jingle of her collar, and her tail to whap against the metal table, the first animal ever in history to miraculously come back from aggressive Mesothelioma, sparking a newfound faith in a God worldwide.

But it didn't happen. Just the sound of the quiet hum of the fluorescent lights and sniffling around the room. A soft press of the stethoscope against fur, and the veterinarian nodded to confirm what we didn't need to be told: We no longer had our Lily.

There was no more wheezing. No more groaning. No more of those helpless looks with her eyes turned up because she was too weak to move her own head. None of that. I looked down and, for the first time in a long time, I saw something different.

She looked just as I had always known her: 


And at peace.

That night, we left her the way she lived.


And at peace.

Say hi to Jag for me, girl. 


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss, your sister must've been heartbroken. All dogs go to heaven, hope that there is one.