Sunday, September 26, 2010

Where will I be without my Shadow?

My Shadow is fading. She's not eating much and she's in a lot of pain. It seems to be radiating from everywhere. Is this old age? Is 14 years enough for her? She is, after all, 98 in human years (14x7=98). Actually, she may be well over 100 since she is 14 and a half, give or take a little. Today, as we strolled very, very slowly down the street, she stopped many times and looked at things, as if to be taking it all in... possibly saying good-bye to it all. She's actually been doing that for months. Just pausing and breathing in life. I've been trying to encourage her to do this for years and years but just recently she's slowed down enough to "smell the roses". She always used to be in such a hurry. Now, we are drinking things in very slowly. I'm no longer a sled to this self-imposed sled dog, we walk side by side. Slowly.

Am I ready to let her go? What will my life be like without her? My eyes are filling with tears as I write this... and I can't be sure I'll be okay. When Shadow decides to make her exit, it will be the first time, ever, that I'll be pet-less (and childless, husband/partner-less). I've always had someone fuzzy, furry, feathery, scale-y, slimy, to take care of and to keep me company. It was Feb '09 that my 18 yo cat walked the ethereal path out of his body. His was the oddest passing because his final year greatly resembled the last year of my father's life. They both had some very similar behavior and personality traits. THAT was a trip!

I was telling a friend yesterday that I'm okay with detaching. Letting them go on their path. But I'm full of shit. Sorta. I AM okay with and WANT them to follow their path but sometimes it's so hard to be okay with it. By "okay" I mean going about life without falling apart with grief. It's been 6 years since my father died, four years since my mother died, one and a half since my cat, Charlie, died, and damn it if each death doesn't make me re-visit all the past ones. Actually it goes back further... 15 years since my dog, Pepper, died, 7 years since Sissy- Charlie's sister- died. Before that was my first pair of cats, Sniffles and Tabby, Zappa, my first black lab (she didn't die with me, but I had to let her go-gave her up), Nappy (short for Napoleon) who I also had to give up since he kept shitting in my dad's shoes (a funny story, actually!), a long and countless list of birds, turtles, fish, mice, and other critters, mix in a few key relationships that have "died" and the load is getting heavy. Oh... wow. I guess that's something I didn't realize until now... that I've been "holding on", "carrying" these events rather than letting them go. Hmm... There is a guilt involved with most of them. I have either felt that I didn't do right by them, or I didn't protect them from whatever, or well, in short, I suppose I've felt guilty for not being perfect. Wow... that's quite an awareness for me. (See, this is why writing this stuff out is so good for me- I get to figure shit out!!)

Why do I feel like I have to be perfect? Well... I won't write about this here, now, but it's absolutely worthy of exploration and I have a few ideas.

In the meantime, my day is spent coaxing my dog to eat something, to move (we have managed to go for a walk yesterday and today) and carrying her up and down the stairs. It's quite a feat, considering that she's over 50 pounds and squirms from the discomfort of being carried and from the pain. I think she appreciates it tho. She wags her tail when I ask her if she wants me to carry her. I'm happy to do what I can. I love her. ❤

I have the contractor coming out tomorrow to talk about building a ramp for her but I'm not sure she'll even use it. I think we'll just see what tomorrow brings. In the mean time, I have some letting go to do.

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