|Rosceaux, circa 2002|
It was time, we had decided, that Rosceaux was just having zero fun at all being a dog anymore. Knowing that we wanted to give him a dignified exit at his own home required us to make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance. This is why it took longer than we thought it would to make the call. Rosceaux kept rallying, just like the New York Rangers vs. Washington Caps in the previous series of the Stanley Cup Finals (husband comes up for air sometimes during these playoffs…). But, in the end, his days consisting of merely picking through his food, taking meds, laying comatose on the floor all day, and falling into his poop almost every time because of his failing back legs, were beginning to look like the Minnesota Wild in the same series. Just plain sad.
So, having to call ahead is a bit creepy, really. We found ourselves like characters in Monty Python's "Search for the Holy Grail", during that part where the plague has hit and the guy is going through the town with a wheelbarrow calling out, "Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!", and folks are bringing out oldies who are barely moving but can at least say, "Hey! I'm not dead yet!" We found ourselves suddenly on this fricking emotional roller coaster that was making pitstops at grief, sorrow, fond memories, horror of death by lethal injection gone bad, emptiness, etc., all while Rosceaux is milling about, dragging his legs, wondering why he can't remember why he is milling about, dragging his legs, and telepathically communicating that "Hey! I'm not dead yet!" whenever he saw us looking at him and starting to cry.
Then it hit me. The absolutely icky feeling of knowing something about him that will utterly change his life that he has no clue about. That his life is going to be over in 28 hours. Because we say so. This is the story of pet companionship, really. This is why they are so much like children for us. Because we know something that they don't know and it's going to affect their lives, measurably. We have had Rosceaux for 13 1/2 years, and have not known our house without him. We have not known our married lives without him. So for me, anyway, he's pretty much as close as I'm ever going to be to having a child of my own.
Twenty-eight hours is a whole lot of time to grieve over something that isn't even lost yet, but that you know will be gone. So, that's just weird. It's a lot of time to wonder, to doubt, to worry, to question. And it brought me to my mom and her laying in her bed, telling us at least every 2 weeks that this was the week she was going to exercise her right to die. WHAT a burden! That ultimate decision. That wondering if it's the right thing to do. She was making this decision for her own life in light of the lives she knew she was leaving behind and could no longer help or hinder. When I wonder what was going through her mind, I realize that I'm doing the same thing I do when I anthropomorphize about Rosceaux. I mean, I couldn't know what my mother was thinking because she really didn't ever say it out loud. So I was left to wonder. Just like I'm wondering now about Rosceaux.
I'm not comparing Rosceaux's life and death to my mother's. They each occupy a place in my heart of separate but equal depth. They both were terminal (cancer and old age), just as we all are. And decisions had to be made. The capacity to do what is deemed best lies within each of us. It takes some swimming through oceans of tears, waves of doubt, and eventually washing up on the shore of surrender.
|Rosceaux in his prime|