Lucy has passed. Our hearts wither in the sirocco of her absence. Others, canine and human, passed from our lives before Lucy departed—beloved dogs, grandparents, friends. None has so wilted our souls.
Perhaps the blade that now lacerates us was whetted upon the smooth stone of Lucy’s long final illness. A year passed after her peril surfaced. As days piled upon one another, Lucy’s pain found veterinary names: pituitary tumor, infection of unidentified origin, adrenal hypertrophy, cortico-steroids, subcutaneous fluids, pancreatic inflammation, renal insufficiency, and intractable nausea. Despite Lucy’s pain and waning capacities, despite our worry, despite hated Ringer’s lactate injections and gagged pills, our last year together was the sweetest of Lucy’s ten. Our knit hearts welded as we faced Lucy’s insidious black wall together. We cuddled. We nursed symptoms. We sang life’s song, reluctantly humming its somber undertones. We grieved, Lucy’s sad eyes on ours, tears and laughter jumbled with tail wags and little groans. Lucy licked Brad’s toes. We scratched her scruff, stroked her ears in lingering pulls. We massaged her. We cleaned potty errors. Lucy napped and sighed and labored at faltering normalcy. Her squirrel chases shortened and slowed. Her appetite disappeared. We brooded at Lucy’s water bowl, counting her laps at its undulating surface.
At the end, Lucy could no longer bother with rodents, so insistent were her pains. Sweetness grew as ministrations intensified: the needles, the coaxing, our hopeless attempts to be rational. As extremity’s darkness rushed over us, inextricable bonding illuminated our grim murk. At Woodhaven Veterinary, Lucy lay in Brad’s lap, her right hip full of sedative. Lucy raised her head, reached a paw toward Kim. Our trembling hands conveyed Lucy to her other packmate’s lap. Lucy’s tongue lolled. Dr. Ann Brudvik, our wise guide, entered, found a vein, and ushered Lucy where go we all.
Life with Lucy was not all end. A rich, rewarding, often hilarious nine years preceded. As a puppy, Lucy burst upon the heart of our life. Mirth became an affliction from which we suffered gratefully. Lucy ran and swam and frolicked. She guarded and snarled and alerted. But those are the stories of other, less grieved, days. This is a tale of Lucy’s end.
I mowed my lawn a languorous week after poison stopped Lucy’s heart. From a flowerbed protruded a half-buried sweaty headband clumped with compost. Lucy cherished that fecund stew of aromas. When tears and heaving subsided, I retrieved the stretchy circlet, soaked it in hot water and soap. Washed, I tossed it, stains and all, in with my other headbands. I will sweat again.
We live on, pained. Lucy does not. Death’s impenetrable illogic.
Rest well, little dog.