I was upset today when I saw her red collar, leash, and two nylon bones in a rubber basin being soaked and cleaned. Actually, I screamed. I thought I had hid them well enough. My parents tried to reason with me, that all her belongings needed to be cleaned, that I could keep them, but they needed to be sanitized. But all I knew was that those things used to carry her stench, the only thing that seemed to be alive, the only part of her that comforted me because in a way, I felt that if I could still smell her, she was still around. And now, I couldn’t even have that much. Today, I was home alone while the rest of my family went to celebrate all the July birthdays in our family. Perhaps it was rude of me not to go, but I felt that I had to grieve a little longer. While they were out, there were moments where I forgot that wyllo was no longer here with us. I also felt vulnerable without her physical presence. I am still tying to make sense of all of this. Still trying to calculate and understand how and why she died the way she did. And to be honest, my faith is being challenged as well. A part of me refuses to accept the answer that everyone is giving me, that God has a purpose behind all of this. It’s just not enough. I suppose that is what faith means. I also understand that I serve a God that gives and takes away but in the last few months, I feel like a lot has been taken away from me. The scary part of all of this is how accurate my inkling was. In the last two years, I had said goodbye to a few people dear to me because they had moved or were called to serve in other places. These last two years were brutal and I tried my best to be resilient. It was hard, especially with the last person that left who was my cousin. I was so angry and bitter at everyone and everything in my sight. I couldn’t even recognize myself anymore. In trying to make sense of the mad exodus, I remember asking my dad and brother, “Do you think God is preparing me to say goodbye to someone for real? Is that why so many people have left me?”
Mid June, wyllo wasn’t herself. Her mischievous self and happy go lucky spirit was replaced with a senile, tired, and worn spirit. We all thought it was temporary until we brought her to the vet. He told us a lot but only a few words were clear to me. I can still hear him telling us those few words, cataracts, arthritis, downhill from here. Each word felt like a sharp dagger inching its way towards my heart and slowly being wedged in. It also felt like reality. Our drive back home was a silent one. No one said anything but in all of our minds, the loudest and most crowded thoughts occupied our minds. When we got home, I asked God not to take wyllo from me and I begged and pleaded. The timing was just not right. God didn’t take wyllo away from me. But as the trips to the vet grew more frequent and each diagnosis less promising, I knew inside that it wasn’t going to be long before I had to say good bye. The thing that killed me the most was her optimistic and fighting spirit.
Amidst all of this, I was still learning to deal with my anger and trying to forgive my cousin who had left. I was also thinking about the value of friendship, trust and respect. I knew what I had to do, but my heart was hardened and I thought that being calloused was the right thing to do, just because everyone else seemed to have that attitude. Last week, I went to a church retreat and went there with the same mentality. I wasn’t going to give of myself anymore. However, the second day into the retreat I had asked God to soften my heart and change me. I left the retreat changed and renewed. I still held on to a little anger but hope also found its way into my heart as well.
This Tuesday, Wyllo had paid another visit to the vet because her entire front leg was swollen. She had an inflammation and the vet told us that at this point, we were “buying time.” At home, I told God once again, to not do this to me.
Later that night, God helped me let go and forgive my cousin, really forgive her. I no longer wanted to be angry at her for the way she left. Although she gave me a reason as to why she did what she did, I guess in circumstances like this, no answer is really good enough. However, God finally helped me let go. I told myself I would call her in time for her birthday and let her know how I felt and at the same time, tell her that I had forgiven her and would ask her to forgive me all the same. Before I went to bed that night, I shed some tears as I looked at wyllo and made her promise to not leave me yet. I also told her I loved her. As her fur dried my tears, it brought me back to the day I left for college and held her so close to me and just cried. A patch of her fur was soaked.
Wednesday morning as I was preparing to go to class, Dad told me that something was wrong with wyllo. She was foaming and coughing a lot. I thought it was something she had eaten and dismissed it after wiping her mouth clean. Afterwards, I left to go to school while my dad and wyllo went for a walk. That was the last I had seen her. A few hours later, I turned my phone back on and received a static voice mail from my father. It went something like this, “come home jane immediately…wyllo…dying” I listened to it over and over to make sure and returned the call a couple of times but got no answer so I called home. My brother, who had just gotten home, said no one was home and that wyllo must be at the vet since her leash was not by the door. As I ran home, my mind was racing. I got home and started pacing back and forth, back and forth, looking up, shaking my head, and saying, “God not now, no…not now”. Although it was only a few minutes, it felt like an eternity. I heard them. I looked from the window and saw my mom get out of the car followed by my dad. This was the turning point. If my dad would head towards the trunk, then I know wyllo won another fight but if he would start going up the stairs, then I knew the inevitable happened. My dad turned towards the trunk. Then he closed it. But all he had in his hands were her red collar and leash. My throat weighed a ton, my heart stopped beating, my blood became ice cold and the only words I could stammer out were, “WHERE”S WYLLO?” My mom said, “She didn’t make it.” I ran, ran as fast as I could to the bathroom and locked myself in there wailing. I was so angry. I even said some not so nice things to God. I couldn’t understand how a God who was supposed to know me better than me didn’t recognize I was a person who needed closure. I also didn’t understand why he took wyllo away the way he did, without any rhyme or reason. I didn’t understand how a God of perfect timing could do this in the most inopportune time. In addition, I didn’t understand why God didn’t allow me to say good bye to her. I didn’t know if I was angry with the fact that while she was in deep agony, fear, and pain, I was in some stupid grad class laughing with my friends or if I was angry that I hadn’t given her one last hug that day. I was so angry, I didn’t even want to let my dad explain to me what had happened.
After hours of crying, I remember the promise I made the night before about calling my cousin. At first, I wanted to postpone it but I knew I had to do what I committed to. All I knew was that I had to hang up afterwards because I didn’t want to bring any sad news up or burden her. We talked and loving words were exchanged. But soon, she knew something was wrong and it wasn’t long before she found out what had happened (thanks to facebook). That night, we shared together, laughed together, and shed tears together.
I miss her. We all do. I finally calmed down and heard about wyllo’s last day on this earth. it was horrid to say the least. I’m still trying to make sense of it all. And although I know that God understands what I am going through, I am debating that because in comparison to His son, wyllo is not going to resurrect in 3 days. In regards to God’s timing and reasoning, He revealed something to me yesterday as I was folding my laundry. I realized that wyllo left me after my relationship with my cousin was patched up. It was almost as if she knew that through that difficult and trying time, she would be there for me, that she would hold on longer just to be my company and companion, which makes me miss her even more. It’s almost like her telling me, “now that things are alright with you two again, I can go. I am sorry to break my promise with you, but it’s my time.” Gosh… I miss her so much. I feel so guilty, so apologetic that I couldn’t share that moment with her before she passed, that I couldn’t cradle her in my arms. I would almost do anything just to have that chance to look her in the eyes and tell her she’s a good dog, that she did well. However, as I continue pondering why I might not have had that chance, it might be because God and wyllo knew that I couldn’t handle such a traumatic experience. Reflecting back on it, I am glad my dad was able to share that experience with her because as much as I would like to believe that wyllo loved me the most, it was really my dad who she bonded with. Of all people, he deserved that moment with her.
The other day, I needed to get out of the house so I went to the city and ended up finding my way into a movie theatre. I decided to watch Wall-E. Prior to this, I never went to watch a movie by myself before but for some reason, thinking about Wyllo, made it seem like she was watching it with me. I sobbed throughout the entire movie, even though it had nothing to do with wyllo. everything reminded me of her. Going home, and accustomed to seeing wyllo on the porch, welcoming me with her silly smile. Not seeing her there brought me to tears again. I had to gain my composure so I ran into the driveway and sat down. For a moment I flashbacked to Wyllo’s hay days when we used to potty train her by the driveway. I finally gathered myself together and headed upstairs. It wasn’t long until I found myself sitting on my bed, crying again. This time, my Dad joined me. That very same night, Batman and Robin were on. I decided to watch it to keep my mind off things. It didn’t work. In this particular part the following dialogue took place:
Batgirl: Alfred’s sick.
Batman: Alfred’s not sick, he’s dying.
Robin: Dying? Why didn’t he tell us?
Batman: You know Alfred, he wouldn’t say anything, but I can tell.
It reminded me too much of wyllo. Alfred was diagnosed with the same disease as Mr. Freeze’s wife. However, at the end, he was given the cure. As illogical as it sounded, I was a little jealous that Alfred lived in a happily ever after storyline. I suppose that is what separates reality from fiction. It’s also what separates the old me from the new me. Of late, it seems like my optimistic spirit has been shot down and being reinforced with tastes of cynicism and reality. I guess these are all lessons learned.
It’s been three days and everywhere we look, there are remnants of her. I still hear her, or at least think I do. Today I stepped on a puddle of water and thought it was drool from her mouth after lapping her water. Even as I shower, I see her. It brings me back to the days I used to bathe her in the winter, the both of us would be crammed in there. When I close my eyes, I still hear her nails hitting the hardwood floors. When I walk into the kitchen to prepare a meal, I see her next to me waiting for a sampling. As I sit on my bed, I see her happy panting face staring back at me. And as I walk around my neighborhood, each tree, house front, block, carries memories of her. Traces of fur still lie everywhere and it’s so hard because she’s the only part missing in the equation. Her food and water bowl still sit there in the kitchen. The scratch marks on our front door are permanently etched with her signature. Her toys, worn and tattered, look freshly chewed. Her chain hangs on a doorknob and her unfinished bag of senior dog food still remains.
If I had one wish, I wish I could see wyllo in my dreams so I could tell her everything I feel. I’ve been doing a lot of things just to get closure and nothing is really working. I just wish I could see her one last time and let her know that she is a good dog, a good wyllo and the best teacher and daughter anyone can ever ask for. For even as she was slowly deteriorating, she always carried that silly smile around with her and no matter what, she was quick to forgive and slow to anger… and even in her death, she was selfless and faithful… she was my Argos.
this was wyllo’s favorite song