Saturday, August 06, 2011

For Cody

Maybe it was the pet carrier he was riding in, but I couldn’t help but to think of another time so long ago. After not eating for a couple of days, and a painful walking gate, we were on our way to the vet hospital.
Suddenly, I remembered each of the four kids gathered by the window waiting for daddy to pull up with our new puppy: our Cody. Arguments over who would first get to hold him quickly abated when the puppy arrived with what appeared to be nervous puppy intestines. Our little white fur-ball was not so white when he made his debut.
Upon immediately giving him a bath and swaddling him in a soft towel, I wondered if he knew he was now at home. He closed his eyes and I swear he smiled.
I think he knew.
And now thirteen years and so many baths and swaddles and smiles later, he was in that carrier being uncharacteristically sedate. My mother-heart that understands the difference between children and pets, couldn’t help but hurt for this little guy who believes himself to be my fifth child. The doctor diagnosed arthritis and prescribed medicine and sent us home. I was happy we were on the right track, but sadness crept in the back of my mind.
I think I knew.
A few days went by. He ate too little and limped too much. I noticed he followed us everywhere, not letting us out of his sight. He seemed to be taking it all in as long as he could.
I think he knew.
A week after the original vet visit, I returned with a weaker dog who refused to eat or take any medicine. X-rays revealed the real culprit: bone cancer. Upon finding it had aggressively spread to his lungs, the vet this time sent us home with a few days' supply of Morphine, telling us there was nothing else to do but try to keep him comfortable, love him… and say goodbye. But she didn’t really have to tell me that.
I think I knew.
Too soon it was time. And as we waited, waited, and waited for the beginning of the end to begin, I watched as my tearful daughter held my trembling dog and I fought the urge to hold them both in my arms and make it all go away.
It was time for the I.V. to be placed in the paw of his now 12-pound body. Then, I held him as the injection began. Within seconds he was at peace for the first time in a long time. No more trembling. No more pain. No more cancer.
No more Cody.
And as I held him, the precious family memories of which he is so entwined raced through my mind: the Christmas we told the kids we were finally getting a puppy; the walks, the games, the days, the nights. Remembered photographs of holidays and birthdays flashed before me. But even more than that, so many memories not photographed because they seemed so unimportant, but at moments like these, become so important, all played like a slow motion slide show in my mind.
And I think I knew.
I always understood that Cody wasn’t really my fifth child. I recognized he was our pet. But more than that, he was such a vital part of our family dynamic. He was both devotedly loving and devotedly loved. He belonged to us. We belonged to him. We’re family.
As I looked down at the eternally sleeping dog in my arms, through my own tears I swear he smiled.
I think he knew.

1 comment:

liz walker said...

This has made me cry being so near to Nena's pasding. You stated it beautifully. May the memories bring you comfort