The Pain of Loss

Dudley DoRight died early Saturday morning.  While I knew he wasn’t doing great, we’d thought he was improving and his dying came as a total surprise.  He had been doing better, playing, barking all the things that were normal.  On Thursday, he was kind of lethargic with not a lot of appetite.  On Friday we had a friend over for a Thanksgiving leftovers lunch.  This is the woman that fostered Dudley before we got him from her and she kept him when we were traveling.  She loved him and he loved her.  So she was here, loving on him spending the afternoon with me and my SO-us sitting around our table and Dudley next to us in his bed. At one point he needed to go out so I took him out.  He wanted to walk so we walked, slowly, to the little sitting area that he liked to have a sniff around at and then a bit out in the area next to  it and then back.  Our friend left around 5:30-loving on Dudley before she left.

We went upstairs to be arouond 9 and I tucked Dudley into his bed like I always do.  Around 11:30 I was aware that he was up and thought he needed to go out-so I took him out.  He just lay in the grass so I brought him in and tucked him back in his bed. I could tell he wasn’t  getting comfortable and thought it might be the lump he had on his neck.  I tried to give him a pain pill but he didn’t even acknowledge the hot dog it was in.  So, I threw it away and laid down with him.  After about 10 minutes, I realized that he was dying. I laid with him stroking him, praying and silently talking to him.  He was turned away from me most of the time. My mind was all over the place.  My SO was asleep in the bed.  I kept silently talking to Dudley, telling him how much I loved him and how glad I was that he shared his life with me.  At one point, I silently asked if he could hear me.  And then, as if there was some unseen force, his head just almost whipped around and we were nose to nose-him gazing into my eyes-which is the way that dogs show their love.  So I knew that he heard me.  I have no idea how long we were like that.  It could’ve bee 5 minutes or an hour.  His breathing was changing and at 3:30 I told my SO that Dudley was dying.  My SO got up and laid down with us-both of us stroking him. An hour later he left his body. I don’t know how many times I asked my SO if he was really dead. We wrapped him up and took him to room my SO meditates in, chanting mantras (my SO did the chanting, I was too upset) and sitting with him.  We took him to the vet where we sat with him more before giving him up to be cremated.

When I called our friend, she was stunned. If someone had asked me if Dudley would be alive 6 months from now, I would have said that I don’t know, maybe not.  But if someone had asked me Friday if I thought he was going to die within the next 24 hours, I would have said no.  The vet was also surprised as the followup blood work showed no sign of infection.

I think Dudley decided, on a Soul-u-lar level to leave.  He had a good last day.  He was with the 3 people he loved the most.  He went on a final walk to the spots he liked.  Although in retrospect, I’m wondering if he was taking me on a final walk. And he was surrounded by love and prayers as he died.  He died in his bed and he wasn’t in pain.  This is the way we would all like to go, isn’t it?

I am devastated.  I have such an overwhelming sense of loss it’s almost unbearable.  I know the spiritual side of it.  I know that part of the bargain in getting a pet is that they will die at some point. I know all of that.  But it doesn’t ease my pain.

I cannot begin to describe how blessed I feel that we had the silent love and communication at the end.  That I was able to receive his message of love.  I will never forget the way his eyes were looking into mine.

And, I am so glad that I have the sobriety that I do under my belt for this.  That I was completely present during his dying.  I am completely present in my grief.  To be honest, at one point it did occur to me that we have some Xanax in the house.  But, I nixed that.

After my mother died, as soon as it was late enough in the day-she died around 7 am- I had my SO get me a bottle of wine.  Of course I did!  I had a reason, didn’t I? Anyone could and would see that!

But not this time.  I will continue to be with the pain.  To feel the grief.  To cry when the mood hits-which is about every half hour.

In some very advanced spiritual dogmas, there is the practice of non-attachment.  But,if I hadn’t had this attachment, I wouldn’t have known this love. Total unconditional love.  Love from a being that saw me in all of my moods, my drunkeness, my ups and downs.  And, because I realize that he was hearing my silent pleas I realize that he knew so much more than I ever even considered.  And still gave me all of his love and devotion.

This is new for me.  The total presence of experiencing this loss.  I will continue on with it. Missing him with all of my heart. Seeing him wherever we went together.  Knowing that in time the grief will dull.  Learning another lesson about what it’s like dealing with life soberly. Knowing that numbing out with alcohol or something else is not dealing with anything-it just masks the pain. That pain never really goes anywhere, it just gets stored up and at some point, must somehow implode.

So, here’s to Dudley, with love.  My best boyfriend ever!dudley