October 23, 2011
It has been 3 days since we lost her. It has been 10 days since she began getting sick. It has been only 5 days since the words, “cancer in her blood” were said to me. She filled 4 years of my life with a lifetime of happiness and joy, and the expectation of at least 10 more.
In my misery I recall that any unhappiness we cause ourselves by not accepting what is. Well, you better fucking believe I’m not accepting this! How on earth would I accept the abrupt and horribly painful excision of Tansy, whose very name invokes magic and love in my brain, from my life? Who the fuck thinks I could ever accept having to decide she’d had enough pain, when she’d never known pain in her life, not for more than a moment or two, and choose to stop her heart and end her life? Her life was with ME, goddammit, and she NEEDED me. She wanted nothing more than to be with us, and my day was made complete and happy when I had made HER day complete and happy. And now? Now I am given comfort and platitudes that she will always be with me in memory, in spirit. But even if that is true, even if I can someday find comfort in her memory, instead of ripping agony, what about HER? What about what SHE is experiencing and what SHE went through? I don’t know, and even if any of the highly unlikely scenarios that people believe in are true, they give me no peace, because I know that Tansy wouldn’t find joy someplace where we are not. Just as I could not conjure a place that I would prefer to being with those I love here in my life. Even assuming she has the love of some great spirit being, and a swamp to wade in, sticks to chase, a Frisbee to fetch, bones to chew, and cats to love, she doesn’t have US and we don’t have HER and that is WRONG and totally fucked up. Some horrible warp happened in my universe this week, and it is irreversible, but I feel sure it was a mistake, a clerical error, so to speak, but it is done and it cannot be undone. SOMEONE fucked up. This was NOT supposed to happen, I am certain.
I admit my life has been beautifully charmed, and when a person has that kind of life, even with some pain and ups and downs, one begins to have the false impression that it will continue, that one is safe somehow from the poisonous things that happen to other people. It is not that I believed I’d never lose her, or anyone I love, but it could be put off for some time, and happen naturally, gradually, with sorrow but with a level of acceptance. Whoever said that we create our own conflict by non-acceptance is absolutely right, but it doesn’t help one bit right now.
I have had my heart broken 2 other times, and I know this because the feelings match, though this one is current, and so it is much worse. It is acutely painful NOW, not then. But the other two instances were different. The first was blissfully resolved and I was so very lucky. The second took a lot of work on my part, and a decision, but I made it through with some scarring but also a lot of growth and deepening. THIS, though, cannot be resolved because she’s gone and never coming back to me no matter how I rage and sob and cry. THIS I cannot make a decision to work on or fix. I don’t feel that, at this time, I can DECIDE to accept that my Tansy is dead. I have to say that awful word so that acceptance can come sometime, maybe, and maybe I won’t slip into some crazy denial. I already talk to her just as much, if not more, than I did before.
But when I call her, “Come-come Tansy!” I get nothing. When I reach for her, I get nothing. And when I see her in my mind’s eye, waves of hurt sweep through me and I want to disappear.
That day in the woods, so blissfully unaware, worried for her and knowing she didn’t feel well, but just an infection, just a virus, and they would fix her. It might cost us an arm and a leg, but I never considered for a second that it was something much more sinister and impossible to fight. I was running one moment, and the phone sang, and I breathlessly answered, knowing it was our vet. He was confused by my voice, and asked if my mom was there. I knew he thought I was a child, and for a moment I wanted to say, “I’m Tansy’s mom.” But I just said who I was, and he was so thrown off for a moment of apology. And then the words, “Blood test… doesn’t look good… some kind of cancer in her blood…” and I dropped to the ground, mid-path, beneath the pines, cushioned by the pine needle carpet, and I broke in half right then. Because don’t we all know that “Cancer” is a death word. We know that it means fighting some invisible, vile, evil thing, and it often wins no matter how much money we throw at researching it. And though in the few short days to come, I had some hope of fighting and actually winning, because my life is so charmed, that hope was very quickly wiped out and replaced with a knowledge of an inevitable end that I felt would kill me as well.
That’s the thing, isn’t it? When we lose someone we love like that, we sort of wish we’d died too so we don’t have to be left with the pain of missing them. And the words, “lose someone”? Like we misplaced her? I knew where Tansy was like an extension of my own body. I still feel her there, like a phantom limb you hear about on amputees. I feel her attention on me when I cross a room, her ears perked slightly, eyebrows up, mini tail wag of acknowledgement. I feel her get up and go to the door when it’s “time to go”. I feel her follow me into the bathroom and ask to have her teeth brushed. I can feel her when it’s time for her to come in, and when she wants out. My sense of her has not dulled, but when there is no solid reality of my gorgeous dog actually loping at my side, or trotting up onto the deck, or lying at my feet, then my whole world tips on its side and I know again that a terrible error was made.
I am still waiting for the apology, and for someone to fix it. I guess I have a long way to go to acceptance.