Yesterday morning I woke up at 6:30 to go to the bathroom. When I came back to the bedroom, I saw that Ricky had moved into my spot and was curled into a sweetly sleeping ball. Not wanting to disturb him, I crawled over him and planted myself in the middle of the bed. Ricky’s spot: where he has slept between Eric and me since we got him 9 years ago this month. In our bed, on that morning, Eric put his arms around me and I cradled Ricky and we lay together as a family.
Probably you know that our family got a little smaller last week. In fact, as I lay in bed yesterday, I thought about how Millie died at 6:30 am just last Tuesday. And here we were, the three boys left behind, missing our girl.
I did share a picture on FB and IG of our Millie. I shared that she died peacefully at home, which seems like a miracle considering her many health problems over the years. I wrote about her seizures that started ten years ago and her tumor that was diagnosed in February of 2018. Somehow she continued to bounce back from every health scare. All except for this last one.
There is a story I will share, who knows maybe I’ve already shared it. Around Christmas 2018, months after Millie’s diagnosis, we took her to a different vet because she was lethargic and not eating. He gave her an antibiotic but also told us that he was willing to try a surgery that might buy her a little more time with us. He repeated that it was very risky but he would like to try to remove the tumor. (This had never been discussed by her earlier vet team.) He said he could do it right after Christmas and that she would be in the hospital several days recuperating. He told us to think about it over Christmas and get back to him.
The prospect of a time buying surgery cast a shadow over that holiday for Eric and me. Already, it was my first Christmas without my dad, away from my mom, and the universe had given us something else to grieve.
Eric and I went to a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant on Christmas Eve. We talked about how the thought of Millie dying post surgery, in pain and alone, was worse than the thought of her not having much time left. We ruled out the surgery. Whatever happens, happens.
Millie rallied. Was it antibiotics? Was it luck? Was it love? I don’t know.
When this last Christmas rolled around, and Millie had survived another year, without surgery, Eric and I both acknowledged our gratitude. All of this time, and let me preface this with, I KNOW this sounds crazy, but I have felt that my dad was working from the other side to keep Millie afloat.
Millie first got sick while I was in Kansas taking care of my dad while he was dying. Eric took her to the vet several times and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong but knew she was failing. I remember laying on my childhood bed, 1400 miles away from Los Angeles, staring up at the ceiling. My father dying, and my little girl seemingly dying too. I told Millie that I loved her, that if she needed to go, I understood. I thanked her for being such a good girl. She didn’t hear me, of course. I knew that what I was saying was for me, to ease my pain.
But, don’t we all believe in magic? At least a little? Don’t we hope that our pleas can save those we love?
I have no answers. I only have stories. And today, my stories are Millie stories.
Recently, I received criticism that in my writing, I only write about myself. I have to say, that is a shrewd observation. I do write about myself, I am self-absorbed. But I also THINK I understand that anyone who connects with something I write does so because I am writing about things that also happen to others. I write about what I feel and hopefully others think, yes, I have felt that too.
I know that I am not the only person who has lost a pet. If you are still with me, you aren’t mourning MY Millie right now, you are mourning YOUR Millie. You are thinking about how much you loved her and how much she loved you and how there is an ache that will always be there.
So, in the spirit of loss and also in the spirit of love, I thought it might be nice for anyone so inclined to share a picture of a pet that you miss. You can post here on the blog or on the FB post. I feel like I have so many friends who had really wonderful pets they posted pictures of and then when they died, they felt like they didn’t have permission to continue posting those pictures. You DO have permission, post whatever you want. And if the thought of posting makes you too sad, don’t feel bad for not posting either. If you want to share a story about your Millie, share a story.
When you lose a pet, you join yet another death club. And you feel things that people who have never lost a pet cannot understand until it happens to them. So please, feel free to share something about your baby that you miss. It will make me feel a little less sad being reminded of how much love is out here, getting us through the rough days!