Whatever floats your boat...
Several years ago an elderly friend of mine told me that if she were ever to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, she was going to dump every food in her house and stock the freezer with her favorite food, Eskimo Pies. I promised her that I and her daughters would cooperate. (Fortunately, her final illness was quick, no time to stock the freezer, which she said was okay, she was ready to go.)
About two and a half years ago, one month after I adopted my foster dog Buddy, I took him to a “Sheltie-Palooza” over a 4th of July weekend. The idea was to bring all these dogs of a high-strung breed to the outskirts of the city where they would not be bombarded with firecracker noise. I met a beautiful dog there that I learned was somebody’s hospice foster. “Cancer,” his foster mother told me. “The remainder of his days are going to be filled with love, wonderful walks, toys, and Häagen-Dazs.”
It made sense to me. Eskimo Pies or Häagen-Dazs. Surely either one makes the sunset easier.
Buddy was ten when I adopted him. Being that he was already an old man when he came to me, I knew our years together would be few. But I was all in with this old guy. Buddy is a soul-mate dog for me. One of those human-animal bonds that transcend whatever passes for profound. Yesterday morning I was told by Buddy’s doctor that he has lymphoma. She tried to comfort me with talk of treatment and remission. “Six weeks to 14 months, depending on his cell type and the treatment we pursue,” she told me.
After speaking with her, I took Buddy for a long walk in a special neighborhood—the neighborhood where he spent his life with his previous owner before I adopted him. His owner was an elderly woman who died in her home. When the authorities did a welfare check on her, they found Buddy by her side. I doubted that he ever got a chance to say his farewell to his old neighborhood. I wanted to give him the chance.
Every thought of Buddy brings a twist to my stomach and I have to ask myself, would I prefer not to know that his time is so short? If I could choose, would I prefer that he be taken from me suddenly so that I would not have to suffer my grief for so long before I have to?
Last night as I held him tight to me before falling asleep, I checked his lumps. They have grown since Thursday morning. I know what Chig went through with Kirby. I know my time with Buddy from here on out will be short and then a lot of time after that is going to be excruciating.
But I think of the second dinner I gave him tonight, the bowl of Häagen-Dazs. I have this enormous luxury of our days ahead, of not wasting them, of taking him to his favorite places and feeding him to the gills with cheese and peanut butter and ice cream, and I know that he is fortunate that I know. A gift for both of us.
Yesterday morning. Buddy sniffing out an old haunt.