Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Saying Goodbye / A Sacred Responsibility

In case you were worried by the post title, we have not lost Hubbell yet.  

He has recovered very well from his surgery. The biopsy did confirm that he has cancer and the doctor suggests that he has 3-6 months to live (comfortably).  However, as you know, Hubbell also suffers from Golden Retreiver Uveitis.  His remaining eye is quite bad and it is extremely likely that his eye/glaucoma will progress to a point of high pressure and pain before the cancer makes him uncomfortable again.  Our intention is to enjoy our time with him until it's clear to us that his "quality of life" is not there anymore.  I know my dog extremely well and I can tell when he's having a bad moment or he's uncomfortable.  At this point in time, his good days way outnumber any bad days. I can still walk into the room to find he's taken all of his toys out of his basket.  He'll still play tennis ball out in the yard.  He still eats like a champ. He shakes his tail at us like crazy. He still smiles. His life force is still amazingly strong.

I know this won't last long.  It's been three weeks since his surgery and I am honestly amazed that he's still with us.  I seriously believed we had about a week or so when I wrote this post.  There are simply no words in the English language to express how thankful I am for this additional time we've had with him.  I spoil him at any given moment I have available.  I tell him constantly all of the sweet things I feel for him in my heart.  If I'm away from home for more than about two hours, I start to feel panicky and sick and I have to return home to be with him.  Because I still can.  And I want to be sure that he's comfortable.  

I'm writing this post today because I spoke with the in-home euthanasia veterinarian and I feel extremely emotional.  I called her because I want to feel somewhat prepared.  There's also comfort in knowing what the process will be and that someone will be available for us when the time comes.  I have to be honest, I am so scared of that moment.  So scared.  But there is no way I would miss Hubbell's last few moments.  As Alain describes it, it's a "sacred responsibility".  Alain always does have a way with words that makes me feel more at ease.  

Everyone always tells me I'm a "strong person".  A friend even told me that this morning.  But, it's funny, whenever anyone tells me that, I always think to myself, "Wow, I sure do have them fooled".  And I feel that way now.  I keep asking myself how on Earth I'm getting through this.  I cry so much it's ridiculous (although never in front of Hubbell ~ although I know he can tell anyway!).  It's really a kind of torture to not know if we have one more day with him or several more weeks. We have no choice but to take it day by day.  I can't tell you how many people have said I just have to mentally prepare myself for what's coming.  Even the vets.  But I can tell you one thing now (and those who have been through this will probably agree), there is no way on Earth to mentally prepare yourself for this type of moment, for living through the moment when your loyal and beloved family member, your most faithful companion, your very best friend, takes his last breath.  The finality of it is so overwhelming.

Anyway, I have no point to this post. I guess writing it down is rather cathartic.  I want this blog here of mine to be a small/selected record of my life.  I hope my girls will go back and read it one day in the future and know what my life was like when they were young.  And this is clearly a HUGE moment in my life.  One that surely Sophie will remember.  And there a few things I'd want for Sophie & Clara to know:

~ that it's a gift to be with someone in their last moments of life, no matter how hard.
~ that it's important to take care of those who are older and/or sick, no matter how hard.
~ that you have to keep going even when you have a broken heart, no matter how hard.
~ that it takes courage to get through this type of life/death event, no matter how hard.
~ that it's okay to cry, no matter how hard.
~ that there is also beauty in saying goodbye, sadness and loss. 

And I guess I'm reminding myself of those things as well.

Oh Hubbs, we love and adore you to no end.  You are the sweetest soul.  


  1. Oh Audrey, I am crying for you as I am typing this. Be strong and live in the present with your sweet dog and when it is time, you will know when to say good-bye. You will have someone at your home to put him to sleep, that is a blessing, much better than going to a vet's office. I can tell that Hubbell is a sweet soul, just by his photo.

    1. Kay, thank you for this sweet comment. It means so very much to me. I can't tell you how often I've thought of you and Richard as you mourn the loss of your dear cat. It's such a heartbreaking loss. I try not to think about the emptiness that will be left once he's gone ~ it's going to be really hard. And I just have to muster up the strength & courage to somehow get through this to the other side. I often wonder what I did right in my life to deserve a soul as wonderful as Hubbell to love and care for me over the last 12 years. Hope you're well, Kay....XOXO

  2. Oh Audrey. I'm so sorry that you and your family aRe having to go through this. I've thought about why dogs and cats only live such a short time compared to us but I do think it is healthy to learn how to let go of someone we love. It's such a hard process.. Letting go but there is also peace during these times. Peace that you will know the right time, have him at home where he is surrounded by love, and peace in knowing the wonderful life he has had with your family. My 12year old golden has some arthritis but started dropping weight drastically. One Friday she stopped standing up and we had to carry her out to do her business. Since it was a Friday we had to wait until Monday for an appointment. I thought they would give her some steroids and pain pills and send her home. Instead the vet said it was time to put her down. I was totally unprepared for this and sort of fell apart there in her office. After I calmed down I called my husband and we talked about the options over the speaker phone and I decided that I couldn't go through this trauma again and with the vets encouragement we went ahead with the euthanasia. I held my sweet baby as she fell asleep and it was so very peaceful. I got to cuddle her as long as I wanted. Golden retrievers really are such in readable loving dogs and they have hearts of gold! Enjoy what time you have with Hubble and give him lots of loves and cuddles. That's all they want from us...hugs and cuddles.

    1. Hi Jeanette, your comment meant so much to me. I sent you a personal email.....I hope you received it! XOXO


Related Posts with Thumbnails