For me, it's Monday, February 9th.
You're going to say, "But it ISN'T February 9th today. What is she talking about?"
Well, it WAS a Monday, 2 years ago. And it was the day Jordan Puff Piglet died.
February is no longer my favourite month. Thank goodness it's a short one. One day a couple of weeks back, looking at Georgia, The Other Half and I wondered how it could be that she's already been with us almost 2 years. TWO YEARS! The pitapata counter on the sidebar reminds me exactly how many months, weeks and days it's been.
Rufus B Thumper hasn't been well the last few weeks. The heat could be getting to him. Things could just be failing inside of him, as they do with ancient dogs. His stomach is acting up again, as is Georgia's. Between the 2 of them, it's been a seemingly endless round of cleaning up after accidents and cooking little small meals of pap. I've never studied poop so closely before. Every well formed turd has become a reason to rejoice. Every puddle, a source of worry. It's the curse of February. There's no doubt in my mind.
Shortly after Jordan died, I was in one of those New Age shops on Darling Street, looking at healing crystals when I saw some Angel Cards. I didn't know what they were. The lady behind the counter told me to think of a question and pick a random card for an angel to answer.
My question was, "When will Rufus die?"
The answer was, "Summer."
I instantly concluded that it would be summer of that year, 2009, because Rufus was very poorly then and missing his old friend. But my sometimes smarter Other Half told me it could mean any summer! Even one 5 years on! It was a relief to hear that then. But I've dreaded the arrival of summer ever since.
2 years ago, at just about the time I'm writing this, in the late morning on a Monday, Jordan couldn't get up anymore. He was lying outside. He was breathing strangely but he wasn't crying. I tried to get him to come into the house, but he wouldn't, so I covered him with a towel and left him where he was. He'd gone for his morning walk with Rufus. He'd had his breakfast. I thought maybe he had a bad tummy. I wasn't too worried.
Jordan had come up to the bedroom a few nights before, which was unusual for him because he liked his comfy bed downstairs and was an independent sleeper. But that night, he went to sleep on the floor, next to me. Sometime during the night, he went back downstairs. I didn't hear him go. I didn't ponder too much over the incident. It was nothing to worry about.
The night of February 8th, Jordan wasn't too well. He'd had his walk. He'd had his dinner. But he was a bit down. He started to throw up in his bed. Don't ask me what it looked like, because I don't remember. I wasn't too worried, but I decided to sleep downstairs with him, on the couch next to his bed. The night passed uneventfully.
The next morning, we called the vet to make an appointment for Jordan. Our regular vet wasn't at the clinic that day. We managed to get an appointment to see the attending vet at the end of the day. We weren't too worried. It didn't look like an emergency at all.
Early that afternoon, I had to call The Other Half who was out at work, and tell him we'd have to bring Jordan in to the vet sooner. I'd managed to persuade him to come into the house for a brush. He was very wobbly but he got up and came in. After his brush, I left him on the rug in the warm sun. When I came back, maybe some minutes later, he'd disappeared. Though our house is small, I couldn't immediately see where he was. Then I found him. Outside, hunched in the space between the barbecue and the wall, trying to eat dirt and throw up. I was getting worried. The first thought that came into my head was "bloat".
The Other Half came home soon after and took him to the vet. Jordan always loved going out and would jump into the car happily. That afternoon, he sat at the top of the stairs on the front porch. He looked out at the car, parked down the road. The Other Half was already walking towards it. He made no effort to follow and only did it reluctantly and with persuasion. I can still see in my mind's eye, how slowly he walked to the car. How unwilling he was to get into the back. If I remember correctly, he had to be helped in.
I wonder now, if he knew that it would be the last time he'd sit at the top of the front porch stairs. The last time he'd see Rufus B Thumper, his old friend. The last time he'd be walking down his street. I wonder if he knew he wouldn't be coming home.
I didn't. I didn't have a clue. I thought he had a very bad tummy. Although he must have been about 11, I didn't think of him as an old dog. He'd never been sickly, and we'd never had to worry about him.
The Other Half dropped him off at the vet for observation and tests. The vet said he'd call us when the results were in, probably at the end of the day, around 7. We knew he was going on the drip. The Other Half went back to work. I went back to my Monday chores. To tell you the truth, I don't even remember what I did that day. It was just any other Monday. I didn't even call to see how Jordan was doing.
We were having our dinner, watching the 7 o'clock news when the vet finally called. He told us that the test results had come in and they weren't good. He told us Jordan had a tumour next to his heart and it was bleeding into his chest. He told us he was in pain. He told us there wasn't anything more that could be done. He told us a lot of things but we weren't listening anymore, because we were too busy crying and denying.
We drove to the vet's, no more than 10 minutes away. It was summer so the sky was still light. Jordan was in a cage, His leg had been shaved from the drip he'd been on. He looked tired but pleased to see us and wagged his tail. We took him out to the back of the vet's and sat with him. We thought we'd take him for a little walk down the street, but had to turn round because it was too much for him. So we sat there in the empty carpark and told him what a good boy he was and how much we loved him. Then we brought him back inside and went into a room and held him while the vet put him to sleep. It was all over in less than 20 seconds and by 8.
We walked out of the vet's soon after. While we'd been in the room, it had started to rain. It didn't stop raining for the next 3 weeks.
Do I think about how I might have handled things differently in the days before, and on February 9th 2009? Of course I do.
Some days, I think about how little I noticed and knew my dog though I professed to love him. I think about the night he came up to sleep with me and whether he was saying goodbye. I think about how I let him go that afternoon without hugging him more. I think about how I should have been with him at the vet's instead of doing mundane Monday chores. I think about how I could possibly NOT have been worried, when a dog that was never sick, got sick.
I think about a lot of useless things really, that wouldn't have changed the outcome one tiny bit. Is it always going to be like this? I hope not.
Some day, I'm going to not dread the arrival of February 9th.
I just know, it won't be this year.