Saturday, July 13, 2013

She did not go gently into that good night

I know it's been forever since I posted and I apologize in advance for the length of this.

I had my best dog ever put down yesterday.  It was time.  The only reason she was still alive is because I am selfish.  I may be selfish but it also turns out that I have impeccable manners.  Let me explain.

I took Friday off of work because my vet doesn't euthanize (and what a lovely word that is) on Saturdays.  Friday is also my daughter's day off work and she and CJ came from Amarillo to be with me and to say goodbye to the Duck.  Duck was (boy, that one word was hard to write) the first dog ever to growl at my daughter.  I think it's because she had been an only dog for a year and knew, in her heart of hearts, that I love Julie better.  We had Duck longer than we have had CJ.  It was very hard.  I knew it was going to be which is why I was so happy to have the weekend off.  I knew that I was going to fall apart.  I try to only do that in private.  I have decided that this, the falling apart in private, is a generational thing. 

The weekend shifts at work were covered - not exactly to my liking, but they were covered.

Friday, we took Duck to the vet who has loved her as long as we have and had her put down.  We then called a friend, went out to lunch, told Duck stories and made incredibly inappropriate death jokes.  It's a gift.  Julie and the little man (who, by the way, is almost as tall as his mama) hung around for a few hours until they decided that I would be all right.  They left to go home.  I went and fed the other dogs, went home, cooked dinner, ate, and watched a little TV.  I decided to call in an early night because I was exhausted.

A little after 9, I got a text message from the girl who was supposed to work at 11:30.  She was at the ER with her toddler who had ingested God knows what.  Absolutely no problem.  Babies are always, and I do mean always, more important than anything else.  I told her that I would cover the shift until she got there.

She didn't.

The local hospital said the baby was all right but it was decided to take her to a bigger hospital where they might be able to determine what she ingested.  Still no problem.  Babies are always, and I do mean always, more important than anything else.  The bigger hospital is an hour and a half away from our town.  I pulled up my big girl panties and worked the shift.  I like working nights and it was busy enough to keep my mind occupied.

I got off around 7:30, went and fed the dogs and went home, to sleep.

Fast forward to about 3 hours after I got to sleep.   The girl whose shift I had covered, who was supposed to cover a day off for another dispatcher and start work at 3:30 was still in the big town, waiting for big town doctor.  She didn't know when she would be here but she would hurry.

I was awake.  I was disgruntled.  I was petty, tired, and emotionally exhausted.  None of this showed in the text that I sent her, telling her not to worry and that the shift would be covered and to drive safe and to come in at her regular time.  There was no way I was going back to sleep after this, partly because I was afraid that if I did, I would not wake up in time to go to work for the 2nd 8 hour shift on my day off.  I got up, fixed lunch, ate, watched a little TV, got dressed, went and fed the dogs (3 hours early because I was going to work) and started to unravel.

In my childhood, I was known as "faucet-face" for my ability to turn the tears on and off like magic.  As I have grown older I have come to realize that:
a) most people don't care
b) it makes your eyes look horrible
c) it is a waste of wordless prayers

Anyway, I left Shorty's to go to work and I could feel myself starting to unravel.  It is a point of pride with me that no one ever knows how much I am hurting.  In public, and I consider work to be public, I am known for being cheerful, smiling, courteous, helpful and always in a good mood.  I wasn't sure I could pull it off today.  I knew that I could do my job efficiently because it is what I do.  It was the cheerful part that was bothering me.

I ended up with 15 minutes to spare and thought about going to the Subway to get a sandwich.  Directly across from the Subway is my church.  I pulled into the church lot, parked and, thanking God that the door was unlocked, went in.  I promptly proceeded to turn into that tangled skein of yarn.  All of my anger, my hurt, my frustration, my loneliness, and my need poured out.  Thank goodness that I was the only person in the church because it was not pretty.

I stayed for as long as I could, asking for God's help and the grace to get me through this day, remembering when I used to beg the same grace to get me through the 4 1/2 hour drive to see my baby when she was not with me.  I was not sure that it was going to work today as well as it used to.

I got to work, was buzzed in and there were two people in the lobby, waiting to visit family members.  I walked in, automatically smiled and said, "Good afternoon."  I should have known that He would hear me - and help me.

I still need one day, at least, to cry for my Duck.  I will have it and I will do it at home, which actually brings me back to the generational thing.

Miranda Lambert has a song currently out called "Mama's Broken Heart."  Here is the chorus:
     "Go and fix your make-up, girl, it's just a break up.
       Run and hide your crazy and start acting like a lady
      'Cause I raised you better-gotta keep it together, even when you fall apart,
       But this ain't my mama's broken heart."

I am gonna go hide my crazy, now that it's sprawled all over this page for y'all to see, 'cause this is Duck's Mama's broken heart.

PS:  Duck, the only dog to ever growl at Julie, was also the dog who stayed with her when her husband was deployed, to protect her and her children.  They loved each other extraordinarily.  When Duck couldn't (or wouldn't) go down the steps yesterday, it was Julie who picked her up, cradling her so gently that she didn't cry.  She did, however, delicately drop a dog poop, BARELY touching Julie's pants.  It made us laugh - and Juls?  Thanks for not pitching her.


Pamela said...

what a lovely and heartfelt memo

Sayre said...

Nothing better than a well loved dog! Letting go of them is so hard, but in the end, that is also an act of love. You did right by the Duck. Your heart will heal in time and when it does, the Duck will be glad of it.

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