A year ago on October 1st 2015, my partner and I found out that our dog, Reggie, had aggressive lymphoma. He was less than three years old and we had only recently adopted him from Boxer Rescue Ontario the previous December.
When I asked the vet The Question she said, “Two weeks. Maybe more.”
We opted to put him on oral steroids but nothing else. His lymphoma was too far spread. Now it was about loving him, keeping him comfortable, and giving him the best quality of life possible until the inevitable.
Little did we know that the effect of the steroids on Reggie would make our lives even crazier.
The lymphoma was pressing against Reggie’s bladder, which meant sometimes he could barely pee even though he needed too. Sometime he would stand in place, peeing for 15 minutes. Other times it would flood out of him. The amount of urination and increased thirst were side effects of the steroids. The location of the lymphoma in his body made everything else that much worse.
What follows is a modified journal entry from October 4, 2015, when the proverbial shit (grief) hit the fan.
How can I feel so empty when he’s still here, as he lays on his bed looking at me with those eyes.
It’s because I’m already feeling his loss. I’m already feeling my grief.
7 stages of grief? Fuck the stages. I’ve been feeling them almost all at once for the last three days, each single day.
I’m just trying to hold myself together.
I won’t cry. Why not? I’m not ready to cry.
Today, after I fed him dinner, after he seemed to be doing better, after he seemed to be able to hold his urine longer (even though he had been out to pee less than two hours ago), even though he seemed perkier and more himself, he peed on the floor.
No, it wasn’t a little puddle on the floor.
No, it wasn’t just in one spot.
He peed on the shoe mat at the door. He peed from the hallway into the living room and all over the mat at the balcony door.
I fucking lost it.
I yelled. I swore. I fucking yelled and swore some more.
Not at him. Not at Reggie. I pushed him our the door and into the apartment hallway and called Christiaan to get dressed and take him out.
I cried out in anger for the frustration, the pain, the knowing of my coming loss, the knowing of my broken heart, the feelings I haven’t been able to let loose because I just don’t fucking know how to let them out in a calm, sensible and intelligent way.
And there is no smart way to let these kinds of emotions free. They explode out of you when the time is ripe.
It’s hard to know how to end a piece like this. Perhaps all I can offer is that having gone through this with Reggie has taught me a lot about myself, what I value, what I love, and what fosters happiness and joy in my life.
I will post more about Reggie over the next two months as my Day One journal reminds of posts from “this day a year ago.’