I started out this month working on a blog about how I have found my mission, that initial draft full of excitement of how after 30 years of searching and questioning the knowledge is there and the struggle of the search is gone but then everything changed.
I came into this year beginning to lean into my joy again. I have been focused on saying yes, to getting out there again and rebuilding my life after I demolished it. Last Friday I had even gotten to the point of having a date and a first tango lesson in 15 years all on the same day. The date turned out to be someone who could be a good friend and the tango lesson was amazing.
I came home happy and ready to spend a relaxing evening with Blue, my constant companion, friend and fierce protector. Blue was excited to see me as always and even more excited to be leashed up to head downstairs to the park.
Once we were at the elevators, something in Blue’s breathing changed, I heard it immediately and looked at him only to find him beginning to convulsively shake, his eyes went blank, and he toppled to the floor. Thanks to my veterinarian I knew what was happening, while it was expected at some point there was no possible way to be ready when it did. It went down exactly the way she said it would although knowing the words describing it and witnessing it were two very different things. It was a syncopal event where they collapse and even lose consciousness due to temporarily decreased blood flow from heart disease. A heart attack.
Blue was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and a leaky heart valve last year, not something that was fixable but something that medication would only put off the inevitable for a time. After trying the medication, we found Blue also had a very sensitive liver so he couldn’t tolerate it. The only option I had was to care for him the best I could and make whatever time we had remaining the best that it could be. These events, the vet said, would continue to come and one of them he just wouldn’t come back from.
Friday night on the floor in the elevator lobby of my building, I continued to talk to him, asked him to come back and after what seemed like a long time but was probably only seconds his tail popped up and began to wag and the eyes that had gone still, looked at me as if to say, “Mom, what the heck just happened?”
We sat there for about 15 minutes just allowing him to gather himself and we were slowly able to make it outside, to the grass and back to my apartment. We navigated slowly, he would take about 10 steps and then he would stop and just look at me as if to say, “Mom, I need a minute.”
We took our time, when we got back to the apartment, he laid down on his bed and slept. I put food in his bowl which at some point during the night he nibbled on but not nearly his usual appetite. I hoped it was all part of the recovery process. I don’t know why I thought this but my assumption was that when these events happened they would be weeks or months apart.
I was wrong.
The next morning, not wanting to leave him I did my workout with my trainer via zoom but before hopping on that call I sent an email to the vet, describing everything in detail. I was torn, I didn’t want to end his life prematurely, but I didn’t want to see him go through that again. The vet replied an hour later and confirmed what happened, the significance of it and told me that it was my decision, she would support me either way. Again, I thought I had time so I told her I would think about it and let her know on Monday. I thought I had the weekend.
I sat with Blue for a few minutes, and I just told him to give me a sign if he was ready to go.
We went outside, Blue was slower but other than that everything seemed normal. We came back inside, and I put a peanut butter treat on the top of his kibble. He ate the treat and left the kibble, not a good sign but I was trying to be hopeful.
I then went about rearranging my day, I wanted to stay close. I texted my friend Des, we had plans to meet for lunch and asked if we could just get takeout at my place. I explained what happened and as a dog lover himself and just a good friend he was totally down for whatever I needed to do.
Around 1pm I leashed Blue up to go potty and to meet Des. He seemed completely normal, just a little slower, while at the park he even acted like he wanted to play with the other dogs for a minute. He was happy to see Des and we headed inside. While standing in the lobby waiting for an elevator, I heard his breathing change, I turned to see the tremors beginning, his eyes went into a blank stare, and we mobilized to help him lay down as he lost consciousness.
This heart attack was worse, he lost all functioning, I could feel his heart beating but it was fast, erratic and he was not bouncing back as quickly as he did the night before. I kept looking back at his tail, hoping beyond hope that like the previous night it would suddenly pop up and begin to wag with the usual Blue energy it always had. It didn’t.
Within moments we were surrounded by people who know Blue, have petted him during elevator rides, everyone concerned and wanting to help. I just had to tell them that there was nothing we could do other than hope he would come back. Eventually, he did, with some assistance from Des and a security guard we were able to get a dedicated elevator and assistance to get him back home. He had given me a sign.
He laid down on his bed, he seemed exhausted. I called the vet, got the numbers for recommended services to come to the house and took the only appointment available for 6pm. While it wasn’t the outcome I wanted, it was clear that his big heart was giving out, it had given so much love for so long, it was completely spent.
With arrangements made, Des and I settled in, sitting on either side of him, petting him as he rested. Occasionally he would pop his head up as if to say, “What are you two up to?” At one point, I got up to get something to drink and he got up as though he was going to follow me. Clearly, he didn’t want me going far. I got drinks and settled back in next to him.
Around 3:30pm, Des asked if I would be okay while he went down to put money in the parking meter. I said I thought we would be fine. Blue’s nose was on my leg. Blue’s eyes popped open when he heard the keys and the door, the moment the door clicked closed Blue pushed his head completely into my lap, pushing against me like he always did when he wanted a hug. I bent down, put my arm around him, placing my hand right on his heart. I whispered in his ear that I loved him, I told him that it was okay to go and then I asked Archangel Michael to help him transition with ease. The very second those words were out of my mouth, his breathing changed, he lost consciousness and I felt his heartbeat slowly until it stopped. My dear sweet Blue peacefully passed in my arms.
In Blue’s passing he protected me until the very end, he didn’t wait for the service to come, he went in his own time, taking the burden of that decision from me. He also waited until we were alone, just he and I taking on the gravity of that moment together as we have done these last few years with several difficult life transitions. We were there together in unconditional love and acceptance of what is.
Now I grieve but I also feel him with me still, I feel his love, his strength, and his protection. He continues his fierce unconditional love from the other side.
Rest easy my beloved Blue, Momma loves and misses you!