It was cool and dry and perfect for little kids hunting eggs in the sunshine. And for adults standing around on the patio sipping mimosas or lemonade and chatting. The eggs and the mimosas were pretty much taken care of in about half an hour, and we headed home to change into "play" clothes in preparation for going out to my brother-in-law's house for Easter dinner.
My sister-in-law put together a lovely feast of ham, potato salad, asparagus and a bunch of other things. We ate until we were full, then visited a bit. They have a new addition to the family - Kirbo!
We are now quite enamored of small dogs - after years and years of big dogs only. Kirbo was just too cute for words, so full of energy and wanting to play! Watching him, I could only imagine what my Abby was like as a young dog.
The contrast was quite stark when we got home. I'd been in denial about her for a while, but when I came home, I realized that the time was at hand when she'd need to be put to sleep.
She had been quite perky and alert up until recently. As blindness overtook her, her world got smaller, though she still got around pretty well by sound and feel. When she came to us, she had developed elephantiasis (thickening of the skin in patches) that first showed up in little pantaloons on her back legs. It spread... her front feet, patches on her ears and back - and apparently it was incredibly itchy. She would rub herself raw on the chair rungs trying to scratch that itch away. We tried all kinds of things.... baths, creams, steroids and cortisone shots... The only thing that seemed to help was desitin (the baby cream) but it was only temporary. Still, she was going outside and doing her jaunty trot and hanging out with us for pets. But recently, even those things stopped. She spent most of her time sleeping and she was bumping into things when she walked around. Eventually, she was getting lost even in the house. Finally, I realized it was time. Time to say good bye to my darling girl. I wrote to her second mama (the person I got her from) to tell her the time was at hand. It was so hard. I set up an appointment and asked my dad to drive me since Abby was so scared of riding in the car. I wanted to be able to hold her. Dad showed up with Mom in tow (she had a doctor's appointment that day). We planted her in the reclining part of the couch with a cup of peppermint tea and the TV remotes and left for the vet.
Abby squirmed a bit at first, but after we'd been driving a few minutes, she relaxed in my arms. I petted her and talked to her and when we arrived, she started shaking again - but just for a moment. We were ushered into an exam room and waited for Dr. Hall to arrive. I was happy for those few moments of quiet with my girl. Dad sat there with me. I did that for him once and now he was there for me. When Dr. Hall came in, I told him it was time for her. The vet tech held her while I was around front - I knew she couldn't see me, but she knew I was there. As the drug went into her vein, a look of peace spread over her face before she went to sleep. She looked so happy. Now she can run and play in the light and see her original owner. She's such a good girl.
I didn't cry. I think I'd spent all my tears in the previous two days trying to come to grips with the decision. Dad and I talked about having dogs and having to make these decisions and how hard it is at the end. Abby was riding in the back of the van in a box I'd brought... I wanted to take her home.
When we arrived, Mom was still on the couch but she didn't look very good. Kind of gray, actually. We had a cup of tea and Mom was sitting there with her hand on her chest when she announced that she was having some pretty bad arrythmia, so Dad took her on to the doctor, who took one look at her and said she needed to be in the hospital.
On her arrival, her heart rate was ranging between 43 and 110 beats per minute. She was in the emergency room until almost 10:30pm. It was on lockdown, so Dad couldn't be with her (there had been a shooting and they lockdown to prevent the perpetrator from coming in and finishing the job). He sat out in the waiting room for hours. I offered to come sit with him, which he turned down - so I went about the task of burying Abby. I am alway surprised by how heavy a dead dog or cat can be. It's like the life spirit bouys the body and when it's gone it suddenly weighs so much more. The hole didn't need to be big, but it felt like a yawning cavern as I dug. I was hot and sweaty and suddenly felt like crying. I did when I transfered her from the box to the bag I would bury her in, but she did look so peaceful and I swear she was smiling a little. It helped. I finished putting her in the ground, then went to get my boy. He was philosophical about it all and succeeded in making me laugh a couple of times.
I wanted to go to the Wednesday night service, so I left the guys at home and went... only there was no one there. Obviously I had missed an announcement somewhere along the way - but then I saw LaVerne coming across the lawn. Guess I wasn't the only one who didn't get the memo. I crossed the lawn to meet her and we stood there puzzling the situation. I told her about Abby and Mom and she hugged me and said "We're here... why don't we go into the Chapel and pray a little bit." So we did. After about 15 minutes, we finished up, hugged and left. My heart and soul felt so much calmer. I'm so grateful she was there.
When I got home, I got my prayer book and told the guys I was going to go sit with Dad, who was still waiting to see mom in the ER. When I arrived, I couldn't find him but they were still on lockdown, so I knew he wasn't with Mom. I walked around both ways without seeing him, but when I was coming back around to the front desk, I spotted him walking out the door. I trotted to catch up with him. They were about to move Mom to a room and he needed to go home and sleep and feed animals. We leaned on someone's truck and talked for a few moments then went our separate ways.
And that was Wednesday.
Over the next few days things fell into a rhythm. Dad finally got some rest. Mom was being taken care of and I visited her every day after work. Sometimes the Boy would come with me - he doesn't like visiting in the hospital but he loves the hamburgers in the cafeteria, so if he came with me, we usually ate dinner downstairs before going home. It was a routine, but still tiring. Dad gave me a day off though... He took the Boy for the day on Saturday. They went to the farm and did chores - planting flowers, installing an irrigation system, moving the baby chicks and such. Darling Man was working and I was free to do whatever I wanted. It was a gorgeous day and my bike was covered in pollen and spiderwebs. I called my friend Ute and we went to ride on the St. Marks trail. It had been a while since either one of us had ridden, so I knew we'd be sore. We rode up four miles and back four miles, which I think was a good start. Legs aching a little, and rear ends a little more so, we rode over to the Riverside Cafe and had lunch before heading back to town. It was just the break I needed. Feeling refreshed, I came home, took a shower and headed off to see Mom. Dad met me there with the Boy and the hand-off was accomplished.
Mom's being moved to rehab today, where she'll work on becoming ambulatory again. It will probably be at least a week, maybe more, but I'm glad to know she's in good hands, taking care of her and getting her back on her feet. There may be a pacemaker a little further in the future, but for now she's doing okay and getting better.
After this week, it's perfectly fine with me if next week wants to be boringly normal!