Monday, March 3, 2014

Faithful Companions and Unconditional Love

Ever since June of last year, I have slept with death in my house.  The night my mother died, I felt it slide in under the door like a poisonous mist, creep through the air of sadness that hung palpable, on stealthy panther feet.

Since that time, I can sense when death is about, scratching out with its hoary talons to snatch someone else I love away.

I looked into my mother's eyes the night she died.  I told her she was the best mother in the entire world, thanked her for trying to make me into a good person, acknowledged her sacrifices in bringing me into this vale of tears, and told her we would be okay, that she could go.

A few hours later, she did.

My dog, Kruzer (named by an animal shelter and we kept it, not wanting to confuse him) kept vigil in the yellow chair beside her hospital bed the last week of her life.  He sat, sentinel, the night she died.  And he had to go outside, restlessly roaming the yard after she died, as if he couldn't contain his grief.  When the funeral home directors came to pick up her body, he howled as if his heart was breaking and then showed his teeth from the gate, knowing that they were taking her away from us, from the house, from him, for the last time.

Now I am giving him medicine to increase his appetite so he will be more comfortable.  I am coaxing him to eat a bite of food.  I am racking my brain to come up with ideas of natural remedies so I don't feel so helpless fighting against this.

But I looked into his eyes tonight and saw the same thing I saw in my mother's.  That he was already destined for another world, and he looks to me to say, "go," release him from the bonds here.

My husband says I'm wrong, takes very little I think or say or do seriously, and for once I hope he is right.  He dismissed my feeling the night my mother died that she was on her way.  And he is dismissing me now.  I hope he is right this time.

Some may be horrified that I am equating my dog's decline with my mother's demise.  I acknowledge this.  But my dog is a sentient being.  My dog has shown me unflagging, unconditional love.  No human has ever done this.  My mother came the closest.

It's something in the eyes.  The windows of the soul.  The soul escapes, even when the windows are closed.  For this, I weep.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Death, Dying, Endings and Me

It's been a strange day.

I have been living through this grief process shit now for over 2 years.  On June 13, 2012, my mother was diagnosed with cancer.  She died on June 12, 2013, one day short of a year from that diagnosis.  One day short of a year to make decisions, know that the end was more than likely imminent, and get "her affairs in order."  Except she didn't.  In the midst of dealing with the fact that I can't call and kvetch or bitch or cry to her, I am having my guts ripped out dealing with the twisting in the wind of her estate, her dilapidated hoarder house, giving away her horses, discovering that her belongings were stolen, house broken into repeatedly, memory disgraced and disrespected, funeral not paid for, and the grave has no headstone.

Deep breath.

For the past three weeks or so, my dog has been eating less and less, and becoming more and more lethargic.  Today my dad paid for a vet visit with his vet for my dog.  Our vet four days ago told us it was a "sour stomach" and nothing was wrong.  My dad's vet says that it's elevated calcium and liver enzymes, and most likely parathyroid cancer.  Either we do an expensive blood test or we watch him get weaker and weaker and die.  So we did the blood test.  And now we wait a week.  And then go from there.  I want him well, but failing that, I want the absence of pain for him.

Meanwhile, I look at another sentient being who has given me absolutely nothing but unconditional love and watch him approach death.

I know that to live is to eventually die.

I get it.

This fact does not make it hurt any less.

And of course, life conspires to cry along with me.

A week ago I received Ariel Gore's memoir, The End of Eve and just finished it today.  I am bereft with sorrow for her, and reliving my own mother's illness and death, making the inevitable comparisons.  Intense writing at its best, this is a talented author's masterpiece.  She has always written in such a way that I felt her words, but this hit me on another whole level.  Highly recommend it.

Right now my life is full of changes.  It has been an overwhelming couple of years.  In the midst of all of this, I have discovered I am living a life I hate, and basically I want to escape being myself.  I am discovering what I really want to do, but also what has blocked me from it - an insidious self-hatred that poisons everything I do.  I am tired of trying to analyze its source.  I am more interested myself in the psychic surgery to remove its roots.  Failing that, I look toward the ultimate escape.

To answer Mary Oliver's rhetorical question, what to do with my one precious human life?

Fix it or forget it.

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