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.