Sunday, April 26, 2009

Beginnings and Endings

Spring has finally sprung in the Northeast this weekend. Today it's in the 80s, everything is in bloom, the birds are chirping, the windows are open, the whir of motorcycles is in the air, and lawn mowers are running. While everything outside comes alive, inside we're watching our beloved Consuela slip away. Since my last post, we've learned she probably has cancer. She's stopped eating and has become very listless. The sadness is overwhelming. At more than 17 years of age, we know there's no treatment or cure for what ails her, so we're doing everything we can to make her comfortable.

Friday night, we brought her into bed with us--the original three, the family we were before the second dog, before the daughter, before the son. We lay there for a long time, the two of us in tears, as she gave us little kisses and took turns staring deeply into our eyes. We honestly believed she was saying goodbye. Waking up that next morning, my heart was in my throat waiting to see if she had left us in the night. Upon hearing my approach, her head popped up, and I swear she smiled at me. Not yet, Mom. Sprawled across the doorway to our room--one of her favorite warm-weather posts--she was making sure, as she always did, that nothing happened without her knowing about it.

Yesterday she stayed out front on the porch for most of the day, soaking up the sunshine and listening to the birds chirp. Today we took a picnic to the beach, one last trip to her favorite place in the world. Back in the day, she would chase birds and sticks and anything else that caught her eye. This time she was content to sit on the blanket and watch the world go by. She did take a stroll down to the water's edge to dip her feet in. Dan held out a stick to her. We could see the desire in her eyes, but she just didn't have the strength. The heart is still there even if the will is gone. She enjoyed having her nose out the window on the drive, which is another of her favorite things.

Here we are together, my baby girl and me, a sixteen-and-a-half year love affair:



Emily took this photo of the original threesome, which says it all... When I saw it after we got home, I was struck by the sag of our shoulders as we took a last walk together on the beach.



And here's one I adore. You can't even tell that anything is wrong with her.



We'll no doubt have a tough decision to make in the next week or so. As we slowly lose her, I can't stop thinking about the day we found each other: December 8, 1992. She was on day six of a seven-day stay in a security kennel that wasn't going to end well for her. We were in our second month of marriage. People have often commented that we did a wonderful thing by rescuing her. I know the truth. She was the one who rescued me when I was far away from home and overwhelmed with homesickness. Once she came to live with us, everything was better. For anything we did for her, she's paid us back in spades by loving us unconditionally for more than sixteen years. I simply can't imagine life without her.

22 comments:

Cheryl Brooks said...

Give Consuela a hug for me, Marie, and here's one for you, too.((hug))

Marie Force said...

Thanks, Cheryl. I will.

Ana said...

Pets that become family are such strong and changing forces in your life. It's good she's shown you so much love.

donna said...

BIG HUGS TO YOU ALL
When our best friends say goodbye. We need to find comfort in knowing they are pain free and will be waiting for us with there tails wagging again in the big backyard beyond. They will live on in our hearts forever.

Marie Force said...

Thanks, Ana. You are so right!

Marie Force said...

Donna,
My kids have a book about dog heaven and it's all about sleeping on clouds, endless supplies of biscuits and ham sandwiches. Consuela will be happy there.

Lise said...

Marie, I was directed to your blog via Cheryl Brooks and am so touched by your post about your darling pupster. I have a 19 year old kitty and I worry about him, he is my son as she is your daughter. Thoughts are there for you, take care. Lise x

Marie Force said...

Thanks, Lise. You know what it's like to feel like you're living on borrowed time with your little darling, too! I appreciate you coming by.

Mary said...

Marie, my heart goes out to all of you. I wish I could help ease your pain. I hope knowing how much that doggy loves you and has had a wonderful life helps...

xo
Mary

Marie Force said...

Thanks, Mary. I appreciate the support of so many friends who have been through it.

nina said...

Hi Marie,

I SO know what you are going through. As I was reading your "blog", I was remembering, with tears, my Otis. I believe that he was the baby that I was never able to conceive. ( I know that sounds crazy, but I was just never able to come up with any other explanation as to why I had such a deep connection with him.) I loved him completely with all my heart. I wish you strength in making the decisions that may be coming your way. I, too, had to make that awful decision, and questioned for a while whether I did the right thing. Saying goodbye is so hard, and having the power to make that goodbye a reality is overwhelming. There is no way that you will make the wrong decision...there is a higher power guiding you, believe in yourself to do what's right. You WILL make the right choice. You are all in my thoughts.

Nina

Marie Force said...

Thanks so much for those kind words, Nina. I know you understand and I totally see what you mean about Otis being the baby you couldn't have. Just like when I was horribly homesick and Consuela took care of me, Otis filled a void and made it all better for you somehow.

I'm so glad we've become friends again!! To all my other blog friends, Nina and I went to high school together and our daughters have recently become friends, bringing Nina and me back in regular contact! I love it!

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

I seem to have had my cry for the day. I'm so sorry, Marie. You can see the love in those pictures, and she's such a pretty girl! I'm glad you're having this time with her, hard though it is. Hugs from me for all of you.

Marie Force said...

Thanks so much, Kendra. All hugs are welcome right now! She is so pretty, isn't she? I love that little face so much and those ears that feel like velvet.

flchen1 said...

Huge hugs, Marie. I'm SO glad that Consuela and your family have such a rich store of memories of the good times together. I pray you'll enjoy the time you have left, too. Take care!

Marie Force said...

Thanks Fedora. I really appreciate that! And yes, we have tons of really funny and cute memories of her. She and Roscoe, her late partner in crime, were always doing something memorable.

Old said...

Cheryl Brooks asked all of us to stop by and offer hugs . . . I too have lost a truly beloved pet to cancer.

She was a 16-year old Seal point Siamese. In her first year of life, she was CFA's 6th best Kitten in her Division. She tried that Motherhood thing, but found that Kittens were . . . not her thing.

I was.

She and her sister came to live with us when they were about 6 years old.

She gave me unconditional love at a very bad time in my life, following me from room to room, and greeting me at the door when I came home. Whenever I picked her up for a cuddle, she would place one long elegant paw on either side of my neck, lay her head on my shoulder, and purr.

When she was about 12, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Four years later, after 2 surgeries, it came back again, and I finally had to let her go.

Nothing has been harder, before or since.

She was Ch. Oh Promise Me-Two, and no matter how many fur-foots come to live with me now or in the future, she will always be in my heart.

May your memories of Consuela help to ease the grief of her passing. I'm sure that Me-Two will show her all the best spots to play.

Signed
AnOldeSoul

Marie Force said...

Thanks for sharing your memories, Old, I hope Me-Two and Consuela's great friend Roscoe are waiting at the gates of the Happy Hunting Ground to welcome her home.

Stalker v1.5 said...

So very sorry, I hope the pain passes quickly. For both of you.

*hugs*

Marie Force said...

Thanks so much Stalker and everyone else for the kind words and cyberhugs. It helps!

Judy F said...

Marie my heart just breaks for you and your family. Love the pictures. Your baby is well loved.

Pets fill a special place in our hearts that we didn't know was empty.

A good friend just lost her Abbey and its hard.

Sending you all lots of hugs

Marie Force said...

Thanks so much, Judy. We were lucky to have her in our lives for so long. Appreciate your kind words!