I don’t exaggerate when I say 24-hour vigil. He wasn’t well that day, but later in the night he experienced strong sudden pain. We were prepared with strong meds in case this happened, but they didn’t fully take away his pain. The only thing that would stop Butch from yelping and whimpering was him being caressed, the way he always liked, on his back, paws up, looking up at you contently, caressing from the tips of his ears, to his neck, and down to his paws slowly, and back up again, telling him what a good boy he was. When I stopped, he’d try to move, and yelp in pain. Our veterinarian couldn’t see him until the morning, so I knew what I’d try to do.
We made preparations. My son and I got Butch in his favorite bed onto the ground between the fireplace and Christmas tree. I laid on one side, my son on the other, hunkered down with all the necessities, our other dog Foxy by his side, and plans to take turns keeping our hands on Butch caressing him, until the following morning. It all worked out as planned for a while, but as expected, it wasn’t an easy task. I found myself tired, dozing off, and being awoken by Butch in pain. Thankfully my son is a very heavy sleeper. After the first time being awoken by Butch I made it my mission to not fail him again, he deserved better.
Then it happened. As the struggle pushed on through the night I heard whispers from a familiar voice, but this time it said something wrong, something I disagreed with. It said, “You can’t do this.” The night seemed to drag on and became more difficult as, “You can’t do this” tried to justify itself, and rightfully so. I’d listened to this voice before, and submitted, when it was convenient. “You can’t do this, you’re too tired to work out,” “You can’t do this, you’re too tired to fix a healthy meal,” “I’m overweight.” ”You can’t do this, you need to work more to support your family,” “I don’t spend as much time with my family as I should, ” “You can’t do this, you’ve been hurt emotionally,” “I’m often emotionally unavailable with the people I love.”
As I became more conflicted between my duty to our loyal pet, and this well-known voice justifying, “You can’t do this,” I gave myself permission. I allowed myself to acknowledge a weaker, less familiar voice and the words, “You can do this.” It seems the more tired and weaker I got, the more I felt supported and empowered as the voice got louder and more defiant as it added, “You are better than this,” ”You will do better,” “You will do this,” “You are stronger then this,” “You can make a difference here.”The voice was mine. I listened. And I acted on those words.
I made it through the night and into the early morning with Butch. Around 8am or so he got his second wind. He slowly got up with hardly a whimper and sat by the door, and Foxy followed. It was time to take them out for their last walk together. The appointment with the veterinarian was at 4:30pm. I was mindful to not say no to Butch today. I let him explore the flowerbeds and make his mark wherever he pleased, with no discipline. Not worried what anyone would think, completely focused on him and his experience. “You can make a difference here; don’t worry what anyone else thinks.” I let him guide me to where he wanted to go, until he finally led me back home. Butch laid in the sun a lot that morning next to Foxy, listening to the birds. I spoiled them both with their favorite human food treats. It was the perfect day.
The only thing that got me through that night, and today, is listening to my voice, my strength, my new guide. “You can do this,” “You are better than this,” “You will do better,” “You will do this,” “You are stronger then this,” “You can make a difference here.” The only things I’ve fought today are the tears, and I lost that battle early in the fight. I cried with my Veterinarian. I’ve cried with my son while hugging him in public and cried with him privately so much more today.
For the first time in years, I feel really connected. I don’t know if our pet passing is the reason, or because I’m listening to my voice again. But I have a feeling that if you listened, you might allow yourself to hear a voice that says “You can do this,” “You are better than this,” “You will do better,” “You will do this,” “You are stronger than this,” “You can make a difference here,” and like me, you and others you love, will be better off when we put those words to action, when it’s not convenient.
In honor, and loving memory of Butch 9.20.02 – 12.21.12
A TDL Reader