I introduced you to Dimple Rose in a blog I wrote about her and the palliative care treatment plan I developed for her (Meet Dimple Rose). Since that time 6 months have passed. We have produced a few podcasts about the death of a pet (Death of a Pet) and planning a memorial for your pet (S2E10: Planning a Memorial Ceremony for a Pet). In that time Dimple Rose has become 6 months older but has still gone on short runs with her dad and hangs out with me in the garden during the day (often laying in my work area).
It is easy, when our loved one is doing well, to ignore age or illness and think that, just maybe, they will stay with us forever. As a hospice nurse I have often been at the bedside of someone actively dying and been asked, “is it really that time?” or “this came so fast”.
I have not heard these words from the patient themselves. They know how they feel and are keenly aware of what is going on inside their bodies. Patients would tell me how tired they are, that they don’t want to eat all the food their family is trying to get them to consume. Many are ‘all talked out’ and are ready to move on. It is not a surprise to them that “the time” has come.
But, for the family, hope springs eternal and they want life to continue, and they are not ready to say good-bye. They want those that they love to stay.
Despite my years working in palliative care, I am no different. Suddenly, last week, Dimple Rose refused to stand up to eat her food. She would lift her head to eat from her bowl but would only walk to go outside to ‘do her business’. She was listless and her spark seemed to be gone. Our first reaction was, ‘is it really that time, this is happening so fast’. We have had her on aggressive palliative care for two years and we knew this time would come, but we hoped it would not. Yet here we are.
We have been giving her extra hugs and David picks her up each night so she can sleep at the bottom of the bed (never allowed before, or at least as far as David knew). I put her food on a dish that she can easily eat from while laying on the floor. Our COVID puppy LunaGrace (yes, we got a puppy during the pandemic) now lays on the floor and eats her food like Dimple Rose eats hers.
David and I have both talked to Dimple Rose and said: goodbye; I love you; I forgive you; please forgive me; and thanked her for letting us care for her. As of this writing she is still eating, going outside, wading in the lake, and disciplining the puppy when she gets too rowdy. She sleeps a lot but always is with me when I am in the office working or under my feet when I am in the kitchen cooking. She sometimes surprises us with a burst of energy, and we hope we are misinterpreting her other symptoms as something other than her of closing in on the end of life.
I am going to miss this girl who is headstrong, way too smart, and very bossy. I am not ready for her to die, but the sad reality is that death is not something that we can control. We can only control our responses to the end of life and be willing to acknowledge that a death is coming. But for now, every day that we have Dimple Rose in our lives is a blessing and a gift for which we are grateful.