Wednesday, March 17, 2004

A really shitty Tuesday

It's straight up one a.m. on Wednesday morning. Normally, I would be slumbering comfortably next to my wife but today is different...

At about 10:30 p.m. my sister called and told me her boyfriend had shot himself.

She had called me about an hour before to say he was missing so it wasn't a complete shock to pick up the phone and hear a teary, stressed voice blurt out, "He's dead."

But it was a shock nonetheless.

Knowing she lives alone, I immediately offered to come stay the night with her and that's where I am right now. I packed up my things and headed down the highway.

I am in a totally unknown situation right now. I am helping by merely being a presence... a sounding board... but there is no way I can begin to fathom how she's feeling right now. I can understand her remorse and the guilt she has placed on herself. It's only human to feel "I should have done something different" but that's where my understanding ends.

Tomorrow I'll make sure she's contacted someone who can help her deal with this better than I can, or I'll at least make sure she has someone to contact.

When I arrived about an hour ago, her friend Shauna was here. Shauna had come over to stay with Mary while she waited for me. As we talked I wanted to be more helpful and provide some distracting conversation but could only sit in silence. Unfortunately, I am in the process of grieving myself.

A few days ago, I wrote about saying goodbye to The Bear. It was almost prophetic because since then he has gone downhill fast. I began to notice near the end of the week that he was having trouble standing up, standing and walking. It quickly became obvious that his hips were bothering him. Then, as the weekend progressed, I realized he was not eating.

I continued to hold out hope that Bear would last a while longer. If I gave him a biscuit or a piece of chesse (laced with an aspirin), he would eat it and he continued to drink. I started feeling like he was being too smart for his own good. I surmised that his dog food had upset his stomach and he was refusing to eat his dog food.

Over the weekend, we tried feeding him a different dry food... he wouldn't take it. We tried giving him a soft food. He ate the soft food right away but that made him sick to his stomach as well and he refused any more we offered him.

I went heavy on the treats just to get him to eat something and I called the vet this morning. She suggested trying a canned food and giving him small amounts more often. At lunch I went to the store and bought a single can of dog food. I dished out a couple of tablespoons into a bowl and set the bowl in front of him. He didn't immediately turn away from it so I left it for him. Eventually, he ate it... but slowly like someone who doesn't have enough energy to chew. I kept an eye on him while I finished my lunch and, seeing no signs of upset, gave him another tablespoon before I left.

When we came home from work, I again gave Bear a couple of tablespoons of the food. He ate about half of it then gave up. JD, our other dog, eventually wormed his way in and ate the rest. An hour or so later I tried to give him a little more but he turned away from it. I began thinking that I hadn't seen him drink all evening, either. The true testament, however, was that he refused his treat when I started getting ready for bed.

As I left, I told Shelly that if he doesn't eat in the morning to call the vet. I'd rather not see him starve himself to death.

While he was still drinking and taking treats, I wasn't ready to be the one to decide his fate. After tonight, though, I'm ready for his suffering to end. I have come through the grieving process and have accepted that he will soon die. Yes, I will cry when he's gone. Yes, I will miss him. But yes, I have accepted it.

I will miss you Bear. I love you.

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