Life Is Bitchy. And Then They Die.

There were two phrases I heard this past week that literally made my body shudder. First was when the vet looked up from examining him. I could tell she had just felt something that wasn’t supposed to be there.

“Ozzy has cancer.”

The second I heard about an hour ago. It came from Dr. Cornelius of Last Wishes In-Home Pet Hospice and Palliative Care. The consultation in my home was about to end and I needed to know. So I asked.

“He has 2-6 weeks. At best.”

A small cancerous tumor was found in his anal gland about 2 years ago and was surgically removed. But it had already spread to other glands. The large tumor now under his pelvis is painful and preventing normal elimination. Surgery is not an option. He can only poop about a flat pecan size at a time. Very soon that area will close up and there’s not a damn thing we can do about it.

I have a lot of experience with client dogs and cancer, but this is the first time with one of my own.

The past week has been spent spoiling Ozzy. I’ve stayed mostly in my head about his condition. Knowing the truth, but being present for him and not letting it hit that place. The place where you know that real is real and there’s no turning back and everything you love must one day leave you and how it hurts to the core of your everyness. Sweet, innocent Ozzy. 

We went through hell with him 3 years ago when he lost his sight overnight. He is totally blind and after tons of testing, no known cause was found. He bounced back like a champ and has been a happier dog without sight than he ever was with it.

I’ve been letting him do all the things that used to annoy me. Like incessantly licking my arms and legs. Like chewing the squeakers out of one toy after another in a few minutes and push them off to the side. Like barking ’til his heart is content. Because that’s what he does. It makes him happy and I want him to be comfortable and happy right now.

So now we wait. Wait for him to die. Aren’t we all waiting to die, really? Most people probably refer to it as living but it feels differently to me today.

I’m thinking about all the things I regret. Why didn’t I take him for more walks? Why did I let him go live with that woman who didn’t care for him properly? Why didn’t I say Yes to his dad who wanted to take him to the park all those times? Why didn’t I cook him chicken more? More toys. More kisses. More time.

Here is the case that holds all the meds he will need over the next 2-6 weeks. His life is in this box. His comfort. His short future. This is what it’s come to.

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robyn arouty