Saturday, March 7, 2015
A STRANGER HELD ME TODAY
This morning I went to the Emergency Animal Hospital where my little Gracie has been for almost a week. I have gone every day to see her. She is not improving. She is in pain. She is attached to tubes and monitors and on pain meds and IV fluids.
Two days from now a decision will need to be made. Do we face another surgery so she has a chance at walking once again, or do we end her life?
Ending her life. Three words full of agony. I have had her for eleven and a half years. And now I am to make this decision after I speak with her surgeon on this coming early Monday morning. I will learn if surgery is not possible due to her fragile condition or if surgery is possible and success is unknown. And of course there is the positive side that surgery could be done and be successful.
How do you make this decision? How do you end the life of some beautiful little soul that is imbedded in your heart and has been since she was seven weeks old? 'Heart Dog'...they call it.
Gracie saved my life once upon a time. And truth be know, several times. She has been an anchor for wounded warriors who could not face a tomorrow. Now when I need her the most to hold me up, sustain me, look at me from her sightless eyes and tell me everything will be alright, she can't.
How do I count the hours until the conversation with the vet? How can I take another step, another breath?
How do I know if I will ever hold her close to my heart and hear her breathing in my ear?
How do I stop the tears?
Will I ever hear music again?
Will I find laughter ever again?
I want to hear her bark to go outside and search for squirrels, and lie in a sunbeam, and race to the fence to bark at the dogs next door. I want to see her standing by her feeding spot, twirling and whirling for breakfast and dinner. I want to feel her next to me on the bed, as she coos in contentment. But most of all, I want her to live.
Eight days ago she was perfect. Today she cannot walk and is fighting for her life.
Today I sat by her cage at the specialty hospital and laid my hand on the top of her head. I gently rubbed her ears, the spot she likes the best. I whispered to her and I softly sang a prayer to her and I told her I loved her more than anything on earth. I sat there for two hours. I didn't want to ever leave. I was afraid.
The doctor and the nurses and the receptionist and everyone saw my face covered in tears. They all said they were sorry. Said, as if it is over and there is no hope. "The doctor will evaluate her on Monday to see if she can withstand surgery." This was of no comfort. If she cannot withstand surgery, there will be no other choice and the music will end in my life.
There was no one else in the lobby except one man about my age who had pulled into the parking lot at the same time I did. We exchanged a few words. He saw the sadness in my eyes, and I saw it in his. His dog has cancer in his leg. We were called to the back to visit our babies. He came out a little before I did and sat and waited for me.
As I came down the long hallway with tears and fears streaming down my face, this stranger, this complete stranger put his arms around me and held me, as I sobbed into his shirt. He said he was sorry. He asked if I was okay to drive and if no one had come with me. I told him I was indeed alone. He wanted to know if there was anyone he could call to come be with me and make sure I got home safely. I told him no there was no one.
He walked me to my car and told me he would be praying for Gracie. Being alone and afraid is what my life has been like forever. But for a moment the warmth, safety, understanding, and genuine caring of this stranger, holding a woman he had never met, provided me comfort and the ability to realize that someone else on this earth cares in the same way I do. Our souls touched in a shared fear for our beloved and cherished dogs. As he said "there is no greater love." That I know for a fact.
Thank you God for this stranger and the depth of his compassion and caring. I know we were brought together for a reason.