Monday, April 20, 2015

Goodbye, Sweet Friend

We had to say goodbye to Viv this weekend, and while we are all still so very, very sad, Brad and I are so amazed by how much of God's hand we saw this weekend.

A week ago, Viv had 12 hours of nose bleeds. Each one wasn't as bad as the last, and they stopped. We had hoped they were allergies, but our vet had warned us if they started again it was likely cancer.

Friday night, Viv had another nose bleed, although it really wasn't bad. She got two more during the night, each a little worse. Saturday afternoon, she had a terrible bleed that we couldn't stop.

Thankfully, Uncle Tim was in town visiting, so he stayed with the kids while Brad and I took Viv to the emergency vet our vet had recommended the week before--just in case. The ride gave us time to have one more conversation about the decision we had already made: no extreme measures. No surgeries. Just keep her comfortable, and when that wasn't possible say goodbye. She was the world's best dog for 12 years, and we wouldn't ask her to suffer for us.

By the time we got to the vet, the bleed was the worst we had seen. I knew by the way the triage tech took our information it wasn't good. When the vet came in to talk with us, we knew. He talked about diagnostic options, but treatment was never mentioned. While he couldn't tell us the exact type, he could tell us he was confident she had cancer. He gave us time to call our own vet, who confirmed that had been her fear. Everyone also fully supported our decision to say goodbye. There is no treatment, and our only option would be to sedate her to stop the bleed, which may have given us a few days at best until she started bleeding again. We just love her too much for that.

So...Brad went home to tell the kids and bring them back to say goodbye. I stayed with Viv. The staff at Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital was incredible. They brought in a blanket for Viv to lay on and for me to sit with her. They brought in pads to catch the blood and changed them often. They helped me keep her clean as best we could. They brought us water and told us again and again that we were making the right decision.

The kids were able to say goodbye at a time while the blood was minimal in a room that had been cleaned. They never saw the very worst, but they saw enough to know it was definitely time. We had been having the conversation with them for months about this possibility, and although they were sad they were at peace with it, too.

Tim stayed with Brad while I took the kids out of the room when they were ready, and in a moment that made me feel like I had done something right they asked if we could go out to dinner to celebrate Viv's life. Evan requested cupcakes. The nurses told them how incredibly brave they were and remarked how much they loved Viv, and they listened as the kids told them happy stories. Knowing they were okay, Tim and I traded places so Brad and I could be with Viv at the end. It was possibly one of the most peaceful moments I have ever witnessed as she laid her head down and truly relaxed in a way she hasn't been able to in a long time.

Unknown to each other, Brad and I had both been praying that Viv would either pass in her sleep or it would be perfectly clear when it was time. That prayer was answered. It was also such a gift to have Tim here to help. I learned after he left that he shared with the kids how he had to say goodbye to his own dog while we were gone. It made it easier for them.

We are also so grateful to have Neela. When we got home, Evan explained to Neela what had happened, and I think it helped him process the day. Issa has been sharing how she thinks Neela feels and what Neela wants, which I think is really her way of processing. And whether she needed the extra love or she knew we did, having Neela snuggle up to us yesterday was a blessing.

It's going to be a hard stretch--mostly for Brad and I. We keep looking for her on the deck or yard. The house is entirely too quiet at night without her ridiculous snoring. There's a void that won't close quickly.

But...I wouldn't change a thing. She was the first dog I really liked much less loved. She snuggled when we needed it, and she was a fierce protector. Hell...she even kept Nana from getting to the kids when they were crying.

This morning, the kids were giggling watching Neela chase squirrels. I thought they were laughing at her. Instead, they were giggling thinking about how much rawhide there must be in heaven and how Viv is finally chasing squirrels without being sore later. That is a gift.

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