My husband, Lee, and I are laying in bed wiping away tears tonight. I just read my friend's post about her dog, Lula, passing away. Just yesterday she had posted that Lula had been diagnosed with Lymphoma and had 30-90 days to live. So today I dropped by her house and left some special dog biscuits from the pet store hanging on the door so she could give Lula a special treat. She must have found it when she got home, after she put her dog down. Ugh! That was bad timing on my part, but I thought she had time.
Whenever I go to the pet store to buy our weekly supply of crickets and worms for the Bearded Dragon and Gecko, I look at all the cute little doggie biscuits. They have some made in shapes like basketballs, birthday cakes, etc. Some are bone-shaped, others heart shaped. Today I saw a bear shape, and since we live in "the Valley of the Bears", I thought how perfect. I would get one for Lula. I selected several others, like the peanut butter bone shape and some hearts, and put them into a little gift bag for Lula, along with some tennis balls for her to chase. I dropped it off at the house and thought about how happy Lula would be to get some treats.
My friend sent me a text saying thank you for the dog biscuits. Then I read her new post saying Lula went to dog heaven. What? Oh my God, I was too late. She probably found the treats there after she got home from having her dog put down. It was too quick, and I was too late. I could feel my friend's pain across the internet waves.
What made it worse was that my husband used to own a pair of Golden Retrievers like Lula. He had them for 16 years, until they got old and passed away within 6 months of each other. It was a very lonely and difficult time for my husband as he was divorced, living alone and struggling to make a living and get by in life. The only things he had were his son and his two dogs. When I told him about Lula, we both started to cry.
I knew my husband was grieving for his dogs, but my thoughts quickly shifted to my son and the last time I saw him before he died. It was actually at Christmas time when I brought him some gifts. I knew he didn't want anything; he said he didn't need anything. But he liked to cook, in fact he cooked all his own food due to his increasing paranoia, so I bought a tri-tip roast and some beans and sourdough bread. I put it all into a big gift bag and took it to him in his bedroom. He didn't want to look at me or talk to me. I talked to him anyway and left the bag. Then I was in the dining room talking to my daughter when he came out with the bag and set it down by me. He was refusing the gift. He was cutting ties, withdrawing. I felt fear and pain and anguish. I tried not to take it personally because I knew it was his illness taking over. I was determined to keep reaching out anyway. I put the meat in the freezer and I left soon after.
I didn't get to see Andrew the next week on his birthday, but I called him. He was really sinking into a depressing funk. His dad and his sisters were calling me with updates, but although we knew we were losing him, we didn't know how to stop it without betraying the thin line of trust we had with him. We knew if we had him committed to Mental Health, he wouldn't trust us anymore and we couldn't bear to do that to him.
By February Andrew seemed to start coming around a bit and was working with his dad again. They were all keeping a close watch on him. He decided to fast for Lent and not eat any meat. He had been reading the Bible alot, so we figured he was just going into another religion phase. If it helped him, more power to him, we figured. I did get him to talk to me a few times on the phone during that time. He was looking forward to Easter and breaking his fast with a barbecue dinner that his dad was making. The girls told me it was a good day. But by Monday, my oldest daughter was panicked and called me really concerned about her brother.
Andrew called me that night and we chatted. He sounded so lonely, but he tried to cover it over with some false brightness for me. I decided I would go see him the next day after I slept some from my graveyard shift. I never got the chance to, however.
Grieving for Lula also made me think of my Mom and the last time I saw her in the hospital. She was in kidney failure and didn't really know where she was. She was frightened and my sister and I were there with her, holding her hand and talking gently to her. When I left her that evening, she was sleeping and I figured we would have a long time to watch over her as she slipped away, maybe weeks. Again, I was wrong. She died that night. I wasn't there, but my Dad and two sisters-in-law were. Thank God for that. I just wish I had stayed.
So all this adds up to the grief and loneliness one feels when they lose somebody they love. I know it still haunts my husband, who lost his mother, then his father, then his dogs. It haunts me losing my parents and my son. I know this will be so hard on my friend, losing her companion dog. So we cried for her, until we finally fell asleep.