I call that a good day.
For those who are still unaware, we had to say goodbye to Copper last Friday. Even after everything we had been through with him, even knowing for weeks that our time together was limited, I was still surprised by how quickly it all happened at the end. At the beginning of last week I had said to Eric that I thought we might not leave the vet’s office with him after his Friday morning appointment and then my boy, a fighter to the very end, rallied and I allowed myself to hope for a little bit more…I am a greedy girl.
Unfortunately, his rally was more based on his fighting spirit than actual improvement. Monkey was home sick and had accompanied us to the appointment. He was very upset and did not want to take Copper inside when we arrived. After I promised him that we would take Copper home with us, he settled down. Then Copper collapsed in the vet’s office during the exam. Eric took Monkey to the car to wait while the vet and I discussed how to proceed. She did not think it was time to euthanize him, she thought with an adjustment to his medication we would be OK.
She ran some simple blood tests while I waited just to be sure there wasn’t anything more going on. When she brought back the results, the printout was covered in red ink. His kidneys had failed. I was given 2 options, 24-48 hours on an IV in their emergency hospital or euthanasia. I had promised Caleb that Copper would be going home with us. I also just knew…his time was short even with the IV treatment. I didn’t want his last days to be spent with strangers in a hospital. So she gave him fluids under the skin and I told her I would call our regular vet for an appointment the next day.
When we got home around 11, I convinced Copper to eat a bit and we cuddled on the couch. By 2 he was too weak to move around and I moved our appointment to that afternoon at 4. It was utter torture to sit there with him, knowing the minutes were ticking away bringing us closer to our goodbye…mostly because they weren’t going fast enough. I know that sounds horrible but my love for him, this dog who was the only lifeline I could see when my depression had been at its worst, was such that I couldn’t bear his pain. I would take my heartache and grief gladly if only to spare him those painful hours.
Many years ago I promised Copper that I would never leave him. As hard as it was, I kept that promise until his last breath. I’m glad I was there, I know he was completely comfortable at the end. I heard his last breath and felt the last strong beats of his heart, he did not suffer. The suffering is left for us to bear. The only moment I feared I could not cope with was the moment when I had to finally break the promise and leave him there while I went home. It took a long time for me to do it but I did finally do it. I am counting the days until he comes home again for good. I won’t leave him again.
I know there is a good percentage of people who think I’m nuts, some might even be related to me…but he saved my life. When I had to make a promise to my doctor, all those years ago, when she wanted to admit me to the hospital to treat my depression, I promised I would not hurt myself because I couldn’t leave Copper. That promise that I had made to him when I adopted him was the promise I leaned on when I didn’t have anything else.
So today, when my son was spraying me with vomit, I laughed because, really what else can you do at a moment like that? And I suddenly realized that I had laughed a lot today. Even though there is a Copper-shaped hole in my heart he did more for me than I could ever hope to do for anyone else. He had been my reason to keep going and, because I did, I found a whole new world of reasons to keep going. I have Eric and Caleb and Holly and these awesome Mamas I go out to eat with every month and the Cupcake ladies and CANADA and the Pinterest peeps and you…each one of you reading this and supporting us and loving us…it’s all a gift from him.
So if my love for him seems over the top it’s because his gift to me was so…wondrous.