I stepped outside that morning, a strong northwest wind at my back, with a bowl of liver, eggs and warm water in my hands. I found her bathing in the sun just outside the old garage and a flock of red wing black birds crackled in the oak tree above her; their harmonious melody felt alive and offered us good company. Kiaya was sleeping and for a moment I wanted to walk away and let her rest knowing how difficult it has been for her to live in a body that is not functioning anymore. But she needed to eat and I didn’t know what the rest of the day had in store…for any of us.
So I kneeled down beside my beloved gently caressing the top of her head as her amber eyes slowly opened. She hesitantly opened her mouth as I tucked two pills into the back of her jaw, both of us growing weary of the routine her body required to stay alive. Looking at me, then her food, Kiaya appeared uninterested in eating; a warning sign from our vet that the end was most likely near. With a few hopeful nudges from me she began to eat, and I sighed with relief hoping that perhaps she would live a little longer, though I knew this was not the quality of life for her wild spirit.
As she licked the last of her breakfast, the cold spring wind giving way to the bright sun now warm on our bodies, I was about to walk away when the black birds began chirping loudly. I heard:
“Be with her. You can hold your pain, it will not kill you. Touch her, tell her you love her, say what you need to say. She is here, with you”.
So, I sat down beside her and cried. I told her I loved her at least 50 times, as if trying to fit in as many ‘I love you’s’ as I could; as if trying to make up for all the times I knew I would want to tell her in the future.
More, I wanted more. I wanted more time. I wanted more hikes. I wanted more playful afternoons; more boat rides; more trips to the mountains; more springs; more summer and falls; more winters; more kisses; more ‘goodnights’….more ‘I love you’s’.
“We give the love to animals that we feel is unsafe to give to other humans”. (Emmanuel)
This has been her gift. She let me love her with complete safety. I sang around her. I danced around her. I shared my heart with her. And in her allowing, in her receiving me was her gift.
Still bawling, I began to scratch the top of her neck and her upper back, the spots she liked best. I played with her floppy ears and thanked her for being a part of our family: for being a part of my life.
I could feel the top of her head now thin and bony; her body weak and frail. I could see the sores still unable to heal from the infection. I could see her limp leg unable to move since the cancer had spread to her spine. And I finally accepted that she would not recover from this; that this was, in fact, a time of transition for her…..and for our family.
Is there ever enough time? I am so sad.
“If we have the faith; then everything is perfect….You are not going to die from your sadness. But you will die from your belief that you cannot hold it”. (Barbara)
I wanted to lay right beside her all day, but feeling my cold hands and knowing my son needed me inside the house, I kissed her on the head and stood up.
I cried all the way to our front door, and just before I stepped inside, I turned around to face the sun. Taking a deep breath, I filled my lungs and gave thanks for my healthy body. Remembering that life goes on; and so will she.
When I came into the house, Wesley took one look at my puffy eyes and quivering lip.
He asked: “Mommy, what’s the matter?”
“I’m just so sad that Kiaya is sick,”I said.
“She’s going to leave her body and go back to the light?” he questioned.
“Yes, sweet boy. Soon, she will leave her body and go back to the light and then on to her next adventure. And that’s okay. I’m going to be okay, and so will Kiaya,” my voice still trembling, “I’m just so sad because I will miss seeing her.”
My son looked me in the eyes and very tenderly said, “It’s okay mommy, you don’t have to be sad. Kiaya’s not gone. She is right here,” placing his hand over his heart and then over mine.
“Yes Wesley. You’re right. Thank you so much for reminding me.”
“I love you mom.”
“Thank you, sweetheart. I love you too.”