Live Like Brody
by Emma Rademacher
“Were running out of options,” the doctor admitted with hesitation on the phone a few weeks ago. It made my heart drop and I sat there trying to pick up the pieces while carrying on our conversation. The medication still isn’t helping and your body continues to retain fluid. I’ve relied on both vets to give us hope with different opportunities, but even they are at a loss. We could continue to tap your abdomen but we know how discomforting of a needle and the stress it puts on your body. Although it seems to help for a few days the fluid continues to build up faster each time. We attempted our last try in a change in meds and adding a vitamin but in the back of our minds we knew it wouldn’t change. We just can’t accept this. Your heart no longer has the fight like your soul continues to have. I was doing so well a few days ago accepting that you aren’t living any sort of normal life; your days consist of sleeping on the couch and getting up occasionally to quench your thirst from your medication then laying back down. And now I can barely stop tearing up whenever I think about you. You now are consistently shivering because you have no fat on your body to keep you warm. I blamed it on winter. No matter the excuses or justifications I can give myself I still know what is yet to come.

You no longer do your happy dance in the house, you don’t play around with Bo, and it’s too difficult to jump on our laps and lick our face or follow us around. It’s no secret the pain we feel and our way of handling it has turned from sadness into bitterness. Being irate is easier. It's easier then letting down our guards and letting out all of these emotions. You’ve always been so good at evaluating how you feel and we should have been happier for you for these last four months. We’ve been trying, really hard. We are in a position we have never been in before and were at a loss. But I wish we would have tried harder; doing what? I really don’t know. Just remember when we choose to do what we have to do, we do it solely out of love for you. It’s probably the most selfless act I will ever do but the guilt will continue to pull at my heart strings far after you are gone. We don’t want you to suffer and we never have, not even a little. If you really are struggling, we can’t tell and I am so sorry. We hold onto your good days very strongly and we jump to the assumption that you’re getting better with any sign of normalcy. But as soon as another bad day hits, it hits us even harder than the time before. Your mind is so strong and your body is so weak and I think that’s been the worst of it. You have yet to let us know you have given up. You carry on each day as any other as if this wasn’t even happening to you. I admire your strength. You are the one in need of comfort in this time, I do believe you've been the one comforting us the most.

I’ve sat next to you on your couch these last few months trying to come up with reasons that I didn’t need to make that decision or that this would improve. I’ve tried to overlook your midsection looking like a balloon, how heavy your breathing continues to be, or how exhausted you are. I can no longer justify that your body has given up. I sat on the ground to get eye level with you and I grabbed your squishy face with your big bug eyes and whispered

You don’t have to fight anymore. You have been so strong and you can only do it for so long. We love you and we don’t want you to hurt. It’s okay.

And as you laid there staring at me I wondered if you heard me, not just the sounds my mouth just made but I hope you heard the compassion, the depth, and how it came from the bottom of my heart.

Here’s another thing, I’m irate.
You are a deceiver. You made me think you were OK. FOR THREE YEARS. You let me allow you to run around the house, to not think about changing your treatment, or not go down to the specialist to get a checkup, all because of how resilient you are. You played it so well. And after three years of pretending, your bloating happened all of a sudden. You STILL acted okay. You still are acting fine other than the few setbacks that the extra weight has caused. You still pick up your head when I walk in the door, your ears still stand so tall and that’s my favorite face to see when I walk into any room. You still prance outside to go to the bathroom and frolic to come back in as if the cold bit you in the butt. You still eat your breakfast and dinner and get excited for those extra treats. How can you fake it so well? I can barely pretend I’m okay when I have a cold.

I thought I could save you. I really thought I could. I didn’t ever believe that something as alive as you could ever surrender to something as ordinary as death. After all, how could your health ever be deteriorating when you ran and jumped and played since you adopted us? And now I understand. You are doing it all for my dad and me. And I know you would do it all over again because that’s just who you are. You live to please. And as possessive as my love is for you, I can’t let you do that anymore. I can’t let you fight for us; I can’t let you hold our family together when you can barely stand on your own. I can’t stand seeing your own body fail you when you have yet to fail anything else. You weren’t given the chance to fail and even if you were I would hardly call it failing.

You set the pulse and everything and everyone moves to it. What ability. I’ve loved many things in my life but my love for you is different. It fills those spaces that words can’t get to.

The day you have to be put down you will wake up like any normal day whereas we will prepare for our silent goodbyes. We will give you our undivided attention and you’re only going to think that it’s normal. We will tell you you’re going to go on a car ride and you will be just as excited as the last time, except Bo will not be going. You won’t know it’s going to be your last car ride either; I won’t stomach to kill that excitement. The window will be down in the car and you’ll close your eyes the way you do when you’re simply enjoying the purest form of joy. And as you don’t know any of it, I will know it all. I’ll know this will be my last car ride, my last hug, last time I talk to you, and I’ll remind myself of that while I fake a smile to lighten the mood.

We’re going to go back into the vet where you will think you’ll end up for a few hours but you won’t. At least this won’t be a new place so you won’t suspect anything. They will leave us alone for a while. The room will be dark and I’ll gently talk and constantly be touching you. I’ll thank you for everything you have done that you didn’t even realize you did. Like comforting me when I had a bad day, for making me laugh when I needed it the most, sitting on my lap in the car so you could see out of the window, licking my face whenever you could get close enough, going on adventures, being excited for everything which made me blissful, for being my best friend for five years, and most of all for all that you have taught me about this unpredictable thing called life.

The vet will eventually come in and it still won’t feel like enough time. She and I will make eye contact giving each other the silenced okay and maybe then you will understand. Maybe you’ll sense the stillness in the room or maybe you’ll know when I hold you so tightly you’ll start grunting in discomfort, when you feel wet tears on my face when I press up against yours, or when you’ll feel my heart beat out of my chest while I hold my breathe trying to stop time. And if you can’t feel any of that all I can hope is that you can at least feel the unconditional love I have for you.
You are the pure, innocent joy of grass and sky and wind and sun. It is a love beyond the limits of patience and sense and perseverance. Thank you for walking alongside me during the hardest, unfamiliar, and most extreme times of my life, and for also being there for the greatest moments and never loving me any less for my choices I’ve made during our time. Thank you for serving as a best friend and companion to me your entire life. I love you and I will continue to love you throughout every second, moment, and day. When something extravagant happens in life I will instantly be reminded of you because you were just that. When I become disappointment I will remember life is too short and that I need to enjoy the small things the way you did. I know nothing can fill the space in my heart that you will take with you but please take every ounce of it if that’s the last I can give you. If I take anything from your passing I hope its knowing how fortunate I am to have your love, trust, and loyalty these last five years. There are few joys in this world that compare to hearing your collar jingle as you run up to the door to meet me when I walk in and I’ll forever cherish that. I will carry you with me, always.

“If my love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.”
Comments would be appreciated by the author, Emma Rademacher
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