Chapter 5: Wait For Me
When Whisper was in his 13th year, our lives changed even more. I was constantly by his side, unable to leave for longer than an hour or two. The paralysis in his hind quarters had spread, and he had lost control of his bladder and bowels. So, I had to keep his tummy and legs shaved to protect his skin from urine burns. Maxi pads worked great to help him stay clean and dry. He would get a waterless bath every day, and Iíd wash his beds constantly. It was a lot of work, but he didnít seem to mind. I certainly didnít mind. Iíd do anything to keep him healthy and happy.
The last year of Whisperís life, I usually slept downstairs on the couch, so I could be close to him. My very understanding husband, Glenn, would occasionally stay with him so I could get a good nights sleep. Needless to say, we were becoming more and more concerned with Whisperís quality of life. Above all, I did not want him to suffer or be uncomfortable. I must have had him at the Vetís office every month for a check-up. Dr. Gonsier was great. We had a new routine of ďdrive-byĒ visits. Whisp and I would stay in the car, (since he couldnít walk) and the doctor would come outside to check on him and take a blood sample. Time after time, Dr. Gonsier reassured me, because the results always came back normal.
His last 6 months were very difficult. Even though his blood work was fine, and he wasnít in any pain, Whisper was trying to tell me something. Of course, I didnít want to hear it. I made excuses, like, heís training me again, or heís just lonely. The cute little grumble to call me stopped being so cute. The twinkle in his eye was gone, as was the smile on his face, and the wag of his tail. ------ Whisper was trying to tell me he needed a special kind of help. --- Was I being selfish? --- Was I keeping him here just for me? --- Did he want to be here? --- How long would this go on? Realistically, I knew he would never get any better. But I kept telling myself those damn blood tests were normal, so he must be OK.
Then, I started remembering my 90 year old Grandmother. She had a vibrant, active life. Granny played piano in the honkey tonks during prohibition, worked in the theater, and belonged to many clubs and organizations. But after she was mugged in San Francisco, the quality of her life went downhill fast. The last few years of her life were just awful. She couldnít do anything anymore. Granny couldnít walk, (like Whisp) she needed to wear a diaper, (like Whisp) she needed help to eat, (like Whisp), and she stopped smiling. (like Whisper). I remember her begging me to help end her life. She would plead with me to put a pillow over her face, to help her go. She said she wasnít in any pain, but she just didnít want to be here anymore. To her, life wasnít worth living. The joy was gone.
I remember being horrified. I wanted to help her, but I couldnít. There was just no way for me to help her go - legally. Toward the end, Granny just wasnít Granny anymore.
It finally sunk in. My beloved Whisper just wasnít Whisper anymore. I had the sinking feeling that he was staying around just for me. (Because he knew I needed him.) But, I couldnít have him make that sacrifice for me. I wanted him with me more than anything in the whole wide world, but I couldnít be that selfish - not with my best friend - my baby. I had to let him go, to be free from the prison of his body.
This was a decision that I would have to be at peace with, for I knew it would haunt me forever. For the next few weeks I had to certain, and come to terms with the idea. I would talk to Whisper, asking him if he wanted my help. I had always hoped that he would die peacefully in his sleep - but that just wasnít going to happen. Maybe it would eventually, but would that be fair to him, to have him linger? I couldnít let that happen, not after such a special life. Not after all heís done for me.
My Mom told me that I would know when it was time. But how? How would I know? Those damn blood tests always came back normal. While talking with Whisper, the same image of Granny kept popping in my head. One morning in June, I woke up and knew ........ it was time.
That was the hardest thing Iíve ever done. And yes, even though I know in my heart that it was the right thing to do, it still haunts me. That last day, ... hour, ... minute, ... and second,... while I held him in my arms,... telling him I loved him, ... asking him to wait for me, .......... while he peacefully slipped away ..............
Itís been a few months now. I guess itís getting easier. I donít cry as much. My friends and family have been very supportive - they all knew how important Whisper was to me. Theyíre giving me lots of space and time. Iíve kept very busy, painting the house, fence, shed, and gate. I planted rows of flowers and a couple of trees in Whisperís memory. Lost 20 lbs. (at least something good).
I realize I was keeping busy to keep from thinking / feeling. The first few days I was on auto-pilot. Putting away Whisperís beds, towels, special food, insulin, syringes, and 14 years worth of Samoyed paraphernalia. (I really accumulated a lot of Sammy things, i.e.: Kleenex holders, light switch plates, chimes, license plate frame, key chains, and stuffed animals - just to name a few.) Nothing was thrown away. I just put everything in a big white box to go through later. (That day hasnít come yet.)
After all, there are 14 years of special memories in this house. To this day, the portrait of Whisper that Glenn had painted for me, still hangs in itís place of honor. All his pictures are where they always were, and 14 years of white fluff is still there waiting for me to spin into yarn. Some things will just not change. (Would a parent remove a childís pictures?) Whisper was the most important thing in my life for 14 years, and his memory will never fade, living on forever in my mind and heart.
I had Whisper cremated, and his ashes returned to me. I was hoping the emptiness in my heart would get better once I got him home. It didnít. There was/is a hole in my heart, and I just wanted Whisper with me. I needed him with me.
I searched the stores and the Internet, and just couldnít find anything to help. I needed to keep a little piece of Whisper with me at all times. I didnít really know what I wanted or needed - but I needed something. Since I couldnít find anything, I had to make something for myself. And so became the ďWITHĒ pendant. (Whisper In The Heart) I designed a little bottle-like pendant, that I could fill with some of his fur. At first I thought I would put some of his ashes inside, but I just couldnít bring myself to open up his box of cremains.
I have not removed the pendants since the day I put them on. Even if itís only symbolic, a little piece of Whisper is WITH me always, where ever I am. Forever.
For 14 wonderful years I knew how special Whisper was, and maybe now,
you and the whole world know too.
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