Thursday, May 30, 2013

The hunt for Joy

Joy is elusive... but it's there.

You have to actively seek it.

I am discovering that in the midst of grief over losing Caleb and a never-ending deluge of hardships (like living without hot water for example).

Every day I fight. Fight against the despair - that dark-creeping sadness squeezing every last gut and gizzard.

Every day I chose to find Joy.

I love gardening. This year due to all the hardships, I am not able to have much of a garden of my own. However, this does not mean I must go without a dirt fix. What I decided to do was seek out someone with means to buy all the plants and stuff but unable to physically make it happen. Currently I am doing an entire yard makeover for a senior couple from my church. The yard laid fallow for over a decade. I have a blank slate to go flower-design crazy! I am getting my dirt fix in spite of my circumstances and Joy is there knowing I will wow this couple when they return from vacation in a few weeks.

My poor Nikon D50 wimpered as I ambled by. Heeding its call, I took it out of the case and decided to go shooting. The nuances of taking great pictures gets lost in the age of iPads with build in cameras. Joy comes when I upload pictures to my computer screen, sit back and think... wow! I took that?

Today I will take Kyle to the zoo. I am tired and somewhat grumpy, but I expect to find Joy amid the animals and time with my son.

Life is hard. Joy may be elusive. But it is there.

You just have to put effort into looking for it.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Waiting for him to die

A few weeks ago the vet called. The lump I found on Caleb's leg while grooming him was a very aggressive soft-tissue sarcoma. Given that he is 13  years old, she told us we had a few weeks to a few months left with our beloved fur baby.

John and I brought home the wriggly pup the day after we moved into our house. He fit into the palm of my hand.

Esau, our eldest cat, was amused by this new squeak toy. He swatted it. It squeaked. Hours of entertainment.

Chewed up shoes, carpet (there is still duct tape over that spot), chair legs, underwear, plants...were a regular part of our lives.

Caleb went everywhere with us. Camping. Hiking - he summited several 14ers - cross-country trips to PA, even on an airplane... once.

For a dog, this one sure had more lives than the average cat! When he was a year and a half, he almost did himself in by eating a pair of leather work gloves. Our vet performed emergency surgery in which the dog had less than a 50% chance of surviving. In addition to the gloves, the doctor found a few random cat toys. Caleb recovered to his full self.

One thing Caleb was famous for was his "eating disorder". There was nothing under the sun, he wouldn't try to eat. When he had sleepovers at friend's houses (we went on mission trips or were gone for a few weeks and could not take him) he ate packages of hot chocolate, Dove Dark chocolates, pancake batter and a 5lb bag of dried apricots!

When my parents knew Caleb was coming, they would make sure the lid to the garbage can in the kitchen was secure.

Caleb's desire to eat can be summed up this way: that dog loved cat poop more than I love pizza. Baby gates, booby traps... that dog would find a way to snack on the forbidden.

It's been a few months since he tried.

When Kyle was born, it was a Boy and His Dog all around. Shelties are herders and protective of their sheep. No matter how hard Kyle pulled his tail or poked him in the eye with a wormy finger, the dog didn't react. Oh, I prayed the dog would bite the boy at least once! Just so Kyle'd learn not to hurt the dog. But the dog exercised great patience.

Every day the limping gets worse. He doesn't like to go up and down stairs.

Yesterday our food obsessed beastie turned away from the food bowl. I came home from church to find the cats in the dog food.

Again, today, he is refusing to eat. Laying on his side by the front door where he's been for the past year and a half.

I brought the bowl to him. He lifted his head, his liquid brown eyes gazing deep into mine. He dipped his snoot into the bowl and brought out one kernel, rolled it over his tongue and let if fall to the floor. "For you Mommy, I try to eat for you." He rested his head on his paws and closed his eyes.

When a dog stops eating, it's their way of telling you they are done. That's what the vet told us as well as other dog-parents who have gone down this painful path before us.

John choked back a sob. "I think if he doesn't eat tomorrow, we need to... to... you know... take him."

How do you do it? We prayed we would find Caleb had passed in his sleep. I pray now more than ever that that be the case.

But how do you take your baby in, hand him over and drive home with an empty collar. An empty car?

The vet said we can be with him.

Can I watch the life drain from my baby? Can I bear to look him in the eye, knowing it would be our last look? Our last unspoken exchange of love and trust?

Do I have the strength? It seems odd to run in, hand him over and run out.

I tried and failed miserably at ignoring the reality of Caleb's impending death. I know mortality is 100%. We all die.

I don't want him to suffer. I could not bear that either.

We won't be bringing him home in any fashion. "Hey, see that jar on the coffee table? That's my dog!"

Photos and memories will suffice.

And tears.

Knowing the end is so near is hard.

Now we wait.

Wait for him to die.