Time to Remember
What would December be for me if not filled with the impending doom of loss? The holiday season should be a time for celebration and shared love but unfortunately it will always remind me of the beginning of the end for my Mother. Her demise was not sudden - her faculties had degenerated at a fairly rapid pace over her last year on earth, her strength zapped as her frail body began to fail her, her tiny form shrinking even more as the weight just melted off her leaving loose skin hanging from her brittle bones- but it all led to the foregone conclusion that her time was short.
At least to me, it did. I cannot speak for my sister or my Father (who until those last months clung to the fact that she was ambulatory and mostly fine in in his eyes, give or take a pound or two), but I felt like I kept telling EVERYONE "This is what I SEE! Listen to me! What are we going to DO???" Of course I knew that when she was diagnosed with alzheimers a few years before that there was nothing to be done but sit back and watch, but that goes against every fiber of my being. There was nothing I could do, but in my mind THAT WAS UNACCEPTABLE. I did not want to be a witness to the disappearance of this lovely human being that had shaped my life in immeasurable ways, had nursed me through sickness, had cradled me in her arms, who showed me what true love is, In the end though, my hands were tied and my fate was sealed. I would forever be the witness.
Now it is a year later and I am in that very same position, not with a parent (thank God) but with our beloved dog Sam. I am not equating the life and loss of my Mother to that of my pet, I am merely saying that once again, I took on the role of witness to the signs that his days are few. For the past weeks I noticed the changes in him , even insisting to my Dad, "Something is wrong with Sam. We need to take him to the vet." Always an expressive dog, I have always been able to decipher the subtleties of his smiles. They varied from contentment and love to almost a manic rictus grin which always MEANT something was wrong- be it pain or just having to go to the bathroom. Sam is not a vocal complainer, and so I always tried to be attuned to his moods and needs through his expressions to much success. A while back, the only smile he would give was the manic one. His behavior was becoming increasingly bizarre- for him, for other dogs maybe not as much, but I know him so well, I know when something is amiss. His sleeping patterns changed, his eating schedule was off, and the biggest warning sign- the light had gone from his eyes. During this time he had an infection in his cheek from a tooth ( a bump that he had for several years- it looked like a mole) and that seemed to be causing the discomfort but before we rallied to take him to the Vet, it suddenly went away.
That's when things got really weird. My Sam, who never showed anything but love to me, so open and trusting, always up for a snuggle or a kiss, now growled at me. He even bared his teeth and snapped at me a couple of times. I told my Father again, "We need to take him to the vet. Something is definitely wrong. Sammy would never do that!" My father gently demurred , saying "What could the vet do about behavior. So we did nothing.
Now for the past few days, Sammy has taken to pacing the entire house for hours on end, steadfastly somnambulistic , sleeping very little, occasionally getting stuck in corners and crying until he is retrieved. He still eats, but his loss of weight is significant enough that his skin just hangs off him. And his bright inquisitive loving eyes show no recognition.
So, we are finally going to take him to the vet today- the lightbulb moment has finally dawned on my Father that something is seriously wrong with our precious baby. I fear it is too late, and we might not be bringing him home again.
Once again, I will have been the witness, seeing all but unable to be the savior. It is not a position that I relish, indeed it is a burden that is crushing me. But it seems that is my lot in life. That is my raison d'etre
.I grow weary of it.
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