I’m glad we had that last moment

by Andrea Elizabeth

George had the idea to carry Pippin to the back yard Saturday around noon. It was a great idea. At first he sat up and watched George trim a dead branch off the tree and looked around like he happily owned the place. Then he actually got up and circled the pool before walking to the porch and laying under the steps. Before Punkin died we let them roam free around our fenceless yard, so I think it reminded him of those good old days. We haven’t gotten a fence because of all the rocks and uncleared parts of our 2 acres. I brought him a little bit of water, and he came out. He actually held it down so I let myself hope he wasn’t dying afterall. Then George called him up the steps to sit with us on the porch. I couldn’t believe he could force himself up while looking at me. He had such will power despite his arthritis and increasing weakness that overtook him so much more suddenly starting Friday. I got him a little more water and put some salt in it. He didn’t like it as well, but his ravenous thirst pushed him on. Then I got a little more water and put some sugar in it. He liked that better. After a little while I got him some more, then he controlled his descent back down the stairs and threw a little of it up and laid there. At least it wasn’t the old “coffee ground” blood that he started throwing up Friday night. This last effort was the end of his rally, unfortunately.

George carried him back in as it was getting warmer. He was always so hot here in Texas and preferred laying on the concrete in the livingroom or tile in my bathroom with his belly against the floor to cool it. He waddled to me, then back to my bathroom and laid down. That was the last time he walked. His breathing got more and more labored as he laid on his side. Every now and then he would sit up and try to turn over, which we helped him do. It was sort of restless, and maybe like he needed to aid his circulation because his heartrate was rapid and weak. Around 5pm we thought maybe it cooled down enough for him to go back outside where he last looked happy.Ben laid him down in his new side position with his head extended for more air access. He tried to roll twice more, then he just laid still. Slowly his eyes seemed to lose their focus and his breathing got more labored. We brought him back in and laid him on his dogbed which we placed by my chair in the living room. He looked more comfortable on the softness, and since his body was cooling, like maybe he wasn’t too hot anymore. We stroked him for a long time. I began to think maybe I would take him to the hospital to hasten it afterall and got distracted looking up weekend availability on the internet. I found it opened Sunday noon, and decided if he still lingered by then I’d do it. Then I started watching tv. When I looked down, I saw how much faster and bigger his emaciated chest movements were and stroked him like I described in a previous post to calm him down. That’s when he gave up. I felt his chest and there was nothing. His head jerked down three times to its normal position. I wonder if that was his final effort or just spasms, but he looked more natural and comfortable. It was 9 pm and I am so glad he didn’t die alone after I went to sleep.

This process, including my dealing with it, is so hard. I feel that part of it is letting myself feel the pain of it and remembering. That the pain of death is somewhat cleansing, a necessary part of dealing with the fall which brought pain and death in the world. Yes Christ came and trampled it down, but still we are called to join in the fellowship of His sufferings. I always enter more into Lent and Holy Week and don’t know quite what to do with the triumphalism of Pascha. It seems like something that happened to Jesus and his mother since they were resurrected, but the rest of us still wait, so the celebration seems premature. But it will be fulfilled in all of us some day. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.