Saturday, November 01, 2008

Coming to terms

Grieving is a lot like having your heart broken. I can see that now. I was a wreck all day Thursday and much of Friday which I suppose should have been predicted. It was best when I was teaching and had no choice but to focus on the matters at hand. If left alone, my thoughts kept replaying the final moments and the cold hard facts of her death. I was amazed at how quickly the barbituate cocktail put her to sleep, arrested her breathing and finally halted her heartbeat. Her eyes stayed open and her ears up in the attentive position.

I got lots of crying out of the comments on the last post. Spouse said he had never seen me cry. I have cried a lot in movies, but not in this heaving, sobbing way. Well, now he's seen enough for a lifetime, honestly I think I've cried more than since I was a kid, and even then never this prolonged. And I was quite the crybaby as a child.

It's as if home is missing some important element, like the toilet or the air, and it's just not the same. I find myself missing even her irritating habits which became more and more frequent in her old age. I have to remind myself not to reserve a little portion of what I'm eating for her. I have to remind myself that I don't have to be careful when scooching my chair since she is likely lying right behind me. I don't have to worry about stepping in her increasingly frequent "gifts" indoors.

What really helped me though was when I searched "sara" on the blog and read all the posts I had mentioned her in. There were probably a hundred, oh how I loved, nay still love her. It was good as I detailed the progression of her old agedness and made me feel like we really did the right thing at the right time and in the right way. I'm still crying but I'm hoping to be cry free by the end of the weekend.

Each cry is like I'm wringing a wet towel. I'm hoping it will be wrung dry soon.

Here's something funny. There was the vet lady and her assistant who arrived. The nice vet lady asked sara's age and weight and commended us on our longtime enjoyment and care of such a fine animal. Then the issue of money was handled ($210) and she explained that they would shave a little spot on her leg, insert a stint and administer the barbituates. This is how it went down and serge and I stroked her while it all took place and finally she told us, "She's been gone for a good little bit now, I'm just going to check her heart." Then serge and I lost our composure and both she and her assistant stroked us while we broke down. Then the assistant said, "I need to change jobs."

Many people recommend getting another pet swiftly. We have discussed this many times and spouse and I have agreed to be pet free for at least a year. We tailored our lives around an animal for the last 14 and I know we'll do it again. We just want to have some more liberty for a spell, the chance to pop away for the weekend or stay out of the house longer than 10 hours.

I'm very moved by the outpouring of support and sympathy. My sincerest thanks to all of you.


Mel said...

In my experience, pets just sort of happen when they're supposed to, not when you choose it. Of course, I've always said it was something of an occupational hazard, so I have no idea if it works that way for other people, too. I'm sure, though, that as surely as you made the right decision with Sara, you'll make the right decision when the next one comes along.

Anonymous said...

FYI, I still cry about my dog sometimes and he died a year and a half ago. Heartbreak is exactly what it is. Take care.

Doug said...

I, too, still have times where memory catches up to me and I find tears in my eyes. I'd recommend not trying to "get it all out" by a certain time. I find I enjoy the tears evoked by fond memories.

All the things you describe are so familiar to me, even the procedure itself. The vet's assistant might feel personal pain at what she does, but she offers an extremely valuable service of allowing pets to pass on in a comfortable environment in the arms of the ones they love.

We're not going to get another pet, possibly ever. It's like after the kids grow up and go to college. Do people have more kids?

Be well Torn, and give Serge a hug for me.

Anonymous said...

Oh Torn I still miss my little doggie and its been years. Just remember the good times and forget about the "gifts" and bad times. If I could afford it I'd have another dog but right now I'm doing the starving student thing. There isn't a Vet here who will come to a persons home for such a thing but I wish there were. I remember how my Mom's Boston Terrier "Chipper" trembled and curled up in my lap as we waited in the cold aniseptic office. He looked so sad and scared. I never want to go through that again. ed

larry said...

hi richard, you are probably right about the length of time before another pet. the mourning process takes time,especially after 14 years...hang in there,it gets better.

CoffeeDog said...

You write about Sara so eloquently, it is so clear how much you loved her. Both of your posts made made me well up with tears. I have been thinking about you, and wondering how you are doing. Thanks for posting. Hugs, Pat

Will said...

It's terrible when it has to happen but you two did the right thing.

We artificially extend the life span of these animals by bringing them into our homes and removing the elements that age them and make them prey to predators. When their conditions deteriorate to the point where they're in pain constantly or their quality of life is unbearable, I think we have to make the tough decision.

Whenever that's happened with my cats, I always take them in and hold them while they get the shot so they won't be only with strangers at the end. You and Serge are lovely men and you loved her to the last minute as she had loved you. Bless you both and the memory of her in your lives.

RJ March said...

I love it when you write "Here's something funny" and I start to cry.

You've got a strange sense of humor.

It's like I'm reading that book all over again.

Polt said...

I remember how it was when we put our dog down. I remember how it was afterwards (although we had a second dog, so that helped a little bit).

YOu'll grieve for a while, and that's good. You need to do that. You and Serge both. rely on each other, and friends and family. As time passes, it'll get better.

Although, honestly, I can still tear up at a moment's notice thinking about right now.

Just know we're thinking about you too, Torn. And stay strong.


Butch said...

I am so sorry for your pain. It brings back every memory we have ever had when our beloved dog or cats had to be euthanized. I, the doctor in this family, who has seen trauma and death in humans many times over was reduced to a lump of tears over every one of them. Our vet actually had to tell me I could put our cat, Mahata down now that he was gone. I was a total mess and my partner, Steve took over when it was apparent I wasn't able to finish what I had started with the vet. Our cat was with me for 16 years and our dog, Miss Sally was with us for 16 years as well. I just couldn't go through it at the end. I know as you both do, that it is for the best and you really are giving your dog the most important part of you during this time.

We decided to wait getting another pet until we were ready emotionally. Five years later, we picked ( or he pick us ) Seán, our Lab and he has become a beloved member of our family. Take your time and let the grieving continue until the time is right for you.

Breenlantern said...

As others have said, it took more love to let her go when her quality of life deteriorated than to keep her around for a selfish need to not let put ending her suffering over preventing hers...there can be no greater act of love or mercy or compassion. Would that we all can call on such love and bravery when our time comes to make the same decision. You are in pain, but let it be the pain of knowing you gave her the greatest gift an owner could give...a peaceful ending in the arms of those that loved her most. You took care of her to the end. I hope the tears stop and the warm memories take over of a great relationship with a wonderful pet. Be well.

GayProf said...

Be gentle with yourself. It has been a traumatic loss and you shouldn't feel there should be a timetable or the "right" way to do things.

Snooze said...

Oh honey, I have nothing to say, just that I'm thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

We had to put down two cats and one died in Keyron's arms on the way to the vet.

It was awful. We stayed cat free for a couple months. And then I happened to go the Providence Animal Rescue League.

Saw the cat who is now Angie in her cage and it was instant. She's now bonded with us very well. I'm thinking of getting a kitten at some point but not just yet.

Angie was the first adult cat I'd ever adopted. She was 3.5 years old at the time which would make her a bit over 5 now.

It's hard but before you know it, you'll see an ad for puppies for adoption, or something and it'll just be time.

David said...

Don't set a timetable for your grieving. Let it take its course. It took a while for me to get over losing my Courtney back in 2006. Don't cheat yourself on your feelings for Sara. Let it come out as it needs to.

I respect your decision regarding another pet, but I also agree with some above commenters in that you never know. Keep yourself open.

Hang in there.

Lemuel said...

In October 2004 we had to put our second dog down after 15 and a half years. We went to the vets, but the staff was *very* understanding and consolled us. We even got a sympathy card from them within a few days.

Believe me, I understand your emotions right now! and my heart breaks with you.

I also understand your decision to be dog free for a year. But I must say, good luck with that. When our first dog died (1989), I lasted a week (before we got our second). After our second dog died (2004), I lasted a month.

Actually that is a lie. I lasted about 24 hours, but it took us a month to find the dog who wanted us. That's right. They pick you, you don't pick them. I am convinced of that. *smile*

Whatever you decide or do, you will always keep Sara in your heart. There she lives and loves forever.


Cameron said...

The timing of getting another pet after losing a beloved one is of course very personal.

James & I chose to get another kitty the same day after having to put our wonderful cat Mary down.

It sounds like you are both dealing with your grief in a very healthy way. Thanks for sharing a few more details about Sara's final moments. The vet and assistant were very compassionate, which was a blessing.

David said...

In the midst of tears, "something funny" happened.

You are a truly observant soul, Torn. Here, during Sara's last moments, you still found something sort of funny.

Laughing through tears is a sure sign that both you and Serge will overcome your heartbreak.

Peace to you both, and plenty of hugs.

Greg said...

Gayprof's got it right...arbitrary timetables may not serve you well, though it's good to have a goal.

It's been 2 months since I've been allowed to see Em and I thought my dishrag was all wrung out on the subject, until you had to say goodbye to Sara this week. Now I'm a bit of a mess give yourself all the time you need.

Many hugs.

Roxrocks said...

I couldn't do it either, be with people when they lose their pet, I'd be a blubbering wreck.

Give yourself plenty of time, Torn.

A Lewis said...

That heavy sobbing you referred to shows the depth with which we grieve. I can count on one hand the times I've had that level of release. I read your comment on my Halloween post with Mason's costume in it. I didn't mean to make you feel badly.... I admire you guys so much...Sara had two amazing daddies. My eyes are filled...with giant tears right now.

Scooter said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I read about Sara yesterday. It made me so sad. We have two 12-yr old puppies. After reading your post, I held them, told them I loved them, and promised myeslf I would do this everyday. Thanks for the reminder....that every day is an opportunity to cherish the lives that touch us.

I am sure you and Serge gave Sara a wonderful life.

Jess said...

This may sound stupid, particularly for anyone reading this who has been fortunate enough to have been spared the loss of a loved one so far, but I'm happy to read that you have been crying a lot. I have lost loved ones, including the best parents anyone could ever have, and too often I was "strong" for the family or whomever. I held it in and kept myself from crying. The result was that I have a well of pain in me. Not that every day is agony. Far from it. I enjoy my life. But I feel like I never got a real chance to grieve, while I was trying to be supportive for everyone else. So now I find myself choked up over some of the littlest things--movie scenes that never would have gotten to me before, mushy stories and so on. Not that there's anything wrong with being choked up by such things, but I really feel like I did myself a disservice.

So go ahead and cry. You and Serge lean on each other and cry. It's the healthy thing to do.

And you're right that your love for her goes on. It always will. She brought you love, and the love in your heart will stay with you always.

One more thought: do what's right for both of you as far as getting another pet. I dread the days when our beloved dogs leave this world. I hope they have a lot of years left, but it is the burden of having dogs in our family that we must anticipate outliving them. As horrible as it will be to lose each of them, I've wondered what we will do when they're gone. Sometimes I think some time without such responsibilities would be wise before we adopt a new dog to love. They truly are a blessing, but they are a lot of responsibility, too. So take your time and don't rush into anything. If you need some puppy love, go help out at a shelter in your town.

In the meantime, I hope your pain fades as quickly as it can. Oh, and if some time away might help, Marc and I and our three pups stand ready to welcome you both!

irisgirl said...

Dear Richard: One of the many, many reasons I love your blog is your inclusion of Sara in your writings and photos. I've never been blessed with a pet of my own, and I have found myself feeling like a surrogate aunt to the wonderful animals in the lives of my favorite bloggers.

So, I too mourn Sara's passing, and, thru more tears today, send my love and condolences to you and Serge. Thank you for sharing Sara with me.

publius100 said...

You have my thoughts and best wishes. This is rough for you, and don't let anybody downplay your grief. It's real. And a lot of us have been there, and understand.

Patricia said...

All of this sounds so familiar. When I had to say goodbye to my last dog, it took weeks before I would stop doing things as if I still had a dog. I'd drop something on the floor in the kitchen and not even bend over to pick it up. A few seconds later, I'd remember that no one was going to run in and clean it up for me.

Grieving is truly a process and rarely a linear one. There are good days and bad days and sometimes right out of the blue, it comes around again. I hope you'll give yourself the gift of being true to the feelings, no matter how long it takes. And in my experience, it always takes longer than I think.

I also remember the strange freedom at being able to do something after work without running right home to let him outside.

Be well, you remain in my thoughts.

arsace said...

I read your blog on a regular basis for quite a long time. Since it became clear that Sara´s last day in her life is near, I was *always* afraid to start reading. I was so afraid to read what I finally did: Sara is gone. I started crying in a second. I shed lots of tears for Sara, for you and for all the animals I loved so much during my own life and which I held in my arms during their last minutes just like you and Serge held Sara. I believe that is one of the purest gifts of love you can give to a person or animal you love. Be as close as possible during the last span of their lives. For me, it also meant a huge solace to know that I was there, that I did my best to ease a beloved one to cross Jordan by surrounding the person or pet with all the love I was able to give. And you, my dear, cry as much and as often and as long as you feel you need to. I hope you don´t mind if I hug you.

Jen said...

Oh Torn & Serge,

I'm so sorry to read about Sara. There's still a corner in my parent's house that I walk wide around because Mac was always lying there. His energy will always inhabit that spot (and the corner of the yard where he spun and barked at cars and which ever since has whipped up dust devils). Dogs are such amazing beings and I'm sure you'll know when the right new one will enter your family. Be well, Jen (with licks and a head on the knee from Gibson).

don said...

I still keep my dog's leash by the door. In some small way it reminds me of how he waited for me to arrive home from work every day.

A dogs unconditional love is something to be cherished.

Anonymous said...

i still cry about all my passed away dogs, especially at times when i am reminded of them like now!
remember: Buddha walked in front of my car
remember:Sonny lived two doors down but started "flirting" with me when i came home late at night - he would just show up at my front gate.
your next dog is out there maybe, don't go out of your way but don't ignore the signals.


Ulta Dave said...

So sorry to hear of your lost. My dog is only 4 years old and I can't imagine my life without him. I cry just typing this. I hope you know they never really leave us. Their little paw prints are forever on your heart. Now I need to go hug my dog. Bless you.