Tightrope of Gratitude and Grief, Taking Care of Sick Dogs
I remain befuddled by the reality that Lilly may still die from this vaccine-induced brain and spinal cord inflammation. That, I think, reflects my overall sense of optimism in life. Early on, it never truly dawned on me that she would NOT survive. And, yet, I know I easily get bogged down by worry and not-so-positive thinking. While massaging Lilly’s back for more than an hour Sunday night, I realized that I constantly walk a tightrope between gratitude that she still lives at my side and (preemptive) grief over what her loss would mean to me.
This week, with Valentine’s Day approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot about why girls like me cannot imagine life without a dog. People talk a lot about the GETTING love from dogs, but I’m learning through Lilly that it’s also about experiencing my true, vast potential to GIVE love — to feel it in its almost painful glory.
I may combust.
As a naturally, deeply empathetic person, I experience emotions in their most extreme forms. Sometimes, simply to survive the day, I need to shutoff the emotional faucet.
I haven’t done a good job of that lately — losing weight, losing sleep, worrying nonstop.
Amid my amazement and gratitude that Lilly continues to fight her illness and face her challenges, I often teeter into goodness-help-me-when-she’s-gone territory.
Truly. I may have to put myself to bed for quite some time, if we lose her.
I considered many worn analogies as I worked up and down her spine the other night … Two sides of the same coin. Balancing on the blade of a knife. Dancing on the head of a pin. Walking a tightrope … with a strange mix of fear, hope, and resignation.
There’s that saying about bravery not being about NOT feeling fear but acting in spite of it. That’s me. All day. Every day.
If you’ve weathered a lengthy, complicated illness with your pet, how’d you survive the toll?
Right now? The best I’ve got is to make homemade chicken soup with tiny pasta.