Mike and Sarah share Sunday posts, as they are two widows who are in a new relationship together.
Today’s post is from Sarah:
The past few weeks have been difficult for me – not for any one big reason, but for a whole lot of smaller reasons. So many, that I think this past week I’ve felt a bit off. Not exactly shut down, not exactly depressed, not exactly certain what to call it really. I just feel like my fight is gone and I just feel like being quiet and not much else. I feel restless maybe, and sad, and heavy, and removed. I guess it’s grief mostly, grief for something that is soon to come.
For the past few months our elderly dog, Trixie, has been getting closer and closer to us having to make the decision to end her life. This is the only pet I’ve ever had that has slowly deteriorated mentally well before deteriorating physically, and it is so different, and so hard. She had a major stroke about a year and a half ago and has never been the same since… slowly and progressively losing more balance, coordination and mental awareness as more small strokes have likely come and gone. Still, she is eating well, drinking well, able to go to the bathroom fairly well, and her organs are holding out strong. Until just a few months ago she still went on daily walks.
All of this makes it even harder to have to make that call. But we can tell she isn’t really “there anymore” and her inner ear and brain problems mean that most of her days now consist of walking in endless small circles until she manages to get herself laid down to sleep for hours. Much of the time those endless circles run her into walls or make her land in her food and water. Or she gets suck in a particular corner or room and we have to go help her out. Just the past week or two, she’s starting to have more accidents in the house and having a lot more trouble getting up from laying down. And in these weeks, it has gone from something that feels a little inconvenient and hard to support in our lives to feeling like it isn’t right to keep letting her go on this way anymore. And I guess that’s how the shift happened in our minds.
Even though I haven’t had this dog very long, and I’m much more of a cat person at heart, I am still so heartbroken to be at this moment. She’s been a part of one of the most life changing times in my life, each and every day. At the same time, I am so exhausted from the heaviness of caring for her for the past year or so. Mike and I both feel all of these things, although I know this will be much harder for him. He’s had her for 15 years, and he shares memories with his late-wife Megan with this little dog. This was their dog. Through so many chapters of their life together. I know how hard that loss is… I lost my cats after Drew died and it felt like losing another connection to him too.
I don’t even think I realized just how heavy this has become for me until this past week… suddenly as we both talked and began to commit to the decision that “it’s time”, it’s like I became aware of all the weight I’ve been carrying on top of many other things going on this year.
So aside from all the usual sad feelings of this year… sadness about missing loved ones I can’t visit and sadness about having to postpone our wedding and now even have to decide to get married a completely different way. Sadness over all the many things that have not been able to happen as hoped for… on top of all of that, there is this immense sadness for having to say goodbye to this amazingly stubborn, tenacious, bitchy little dog that came into my life 5 years ago whom I have grown to love. It’s never easy to say goodbye… whether 5 months, 5 years, or 15 years. All I can look forward to is knowing that soon she’ll be able to peacefully rest finally, without confusion, or fear. Just peace.
One thing that I have done that I didn’t realize would become such a deep way of connecting with Trixie is that I started to photograph her sleeping almost a year ago. I have dozens of these photos now, each one unique and just a small piece of our day. It actually became something that helped me through the quarantine, and also something that gave me a way to honor her, since I knew it wouldn’t be much longer before we had to say goodbye. I’ve shared them online with others who have all enjoyed her little napping presence during their own quarantines. Looking back, I feel so glad that I’ve taken these pictures, as it’s become a ritual that brought a lot of peace not only to me but to many others. What wonderful final wisdom from this old girl… take things slow, and nap often.