Dear Daisy: Saying Goodbye
Our last hours together were by far the hardest of my life. No question, and no competition.
Enzo & I went up north with friends to play in the snow, leaving you home with Murphy, Liv & the felines. We had an absolutely fabulous day. It really goes to show how things can turn in an instant. When we got home, we walked into the house and I knew instantly that something was wrong. I found you on the floor in the kitchen, belly extremely distended, panting, drooling and in severe pain. I did a quick review of the house and found evidence of pacing and distress (a couple of accidents and foamy drool everywhere). I immediately called our friend Katie and she jumped in the car to head our way. I was absolutely terrified at the possibility of moving you for fear of making the pain worse. I wasn’t convinced you would even make it to the emergency vet. You were so despondent. I felt helpless. All I could do was lay there with you, stroke your face, try and be calm, and make sure that you knew that I was there and that I loved you.
Katie arrived and promptly took over the “communicating with the outside world” responsibilities. I simply couldn’t process the emotions I was experiencing and form logical thoughts at the same time… which made it impossible to ask the questions that needed asking. Our vet confirmed that it was ok to move you, and we needed to do so quickly, so we enlisted my neighbors to help get you in the car. I climbed in the back with you to resume trying to comfort you, and Katie drove like a bat out of hell. I don’t imagine you remember most of this, though you did perk up a little once we got in the car. You’ve always HATED the car.
I had called ahead and the e-vet team was waiting out front with a stretcher. They quickly whisked you away to get you stabilized and reduce your pain and discomfort. I sat out front with Katie… fretting and waiting, and Googling. We, and my vet, strongly suspected bloat and a gastric tortion (stomach twist). You were exhibiting ALL of the symptoms, but a) it was rare that at 10.5yo, you’d have your first bloat episode, and 2) you weren’t a food gulper, and you hadn’t eaten since 7a that morning, and 3) (let’s be honest), you were the very DEFINITION of lazy, senior mastiff. Typically you expect bloat in active dogs that inadvertently get their stomach flipped and the bloat then occurs.
Our speculation didn’t gain any clarity when the e-vet took us back to share what the x-rays and bloodwork revealed. The results were inconclusive. ARGHH! There was conclusively a bloat, but what the e-vet couldn’t tell us was WHY. The x-rays didn’t show a clear stomach flip (gastric torsion), and there were a couple of abnormalities in the stomach lining which could be cancer and causal. They’d already had to drain the gasses in your abdomen twice in the short time we’d been there so a decision would have to be made quickly. The decision was between a significant invasive surgery with extraordinarily uncertain results, or simply letting you go.
The decision really should’ve been easier than it was, but in that moment, I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that after such an amazing day, I was now facing letting you, my first child and absolutely my biggest fan, go. I knew the day was coming, but today? NOW? No! God damn it, NO!!
But alas, despite my mini temper tantrum and literal foot stomping to try and curb the crippling pain in my heart, I knew it was time. They rolled you in on a stretcher and you were calm. And snoring. And big. And beautiful. They gave us time to say goodbye, and it was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I knew in my heart that it was the right thing to do, but that didn’t quell the irrational feeling that I was giving up on you. I only took a couple of minutes because as I laid my face on yours and felt your breath on my tears, I could almost convince myself that you weren’t nearly as sick as you were and that somehow you would pull out of it. I knew that if I didn’t let you go quickly, then I would chicken out and that wouldn’t be right for you, it would be right for me.
As we let you go, it was when your snoring stopped that my heart officially broke.
I hope you know dear Daisy, just how big the hole in my heart is, and how much I loved and love you. I know you were in terrible pain and yet I’m selfishly so grateful that you held on until I got home. I can’t imagine not being able to say good-bye, and the idea of you passing without me by your side is unimaginable.
Be good sweet girl. We’ll talk soon, about lighter things. 🙂