Who ever knows what’s ahead?
Who ever knows what lies ahead on our journey through life? Who can tell if today is the last to be enjoyed or one of many before a mortal coil is shed? What we can all know is that every day we’re alive is one to be enjoyed and treasured.
Determine to live life with flair and laughter.Maya Angelou
When we live with dogs, never is the shortness of life more sharply in focus than when they begin to visibly age. When their natural exuberance slips down a notch. While we spend more of our time wondering if they’re comfortable, than what they might be up to out of sight. When our heart stops for an agonising second to check they’re still breathing when really they’re deeply, peacfully sleeping; when we know the world will just keep turning as theirs shrinks a little more each day.
There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval.George Santayana
It’s then that we know that our shared life is drawing unavoidably to an end. How near or far that end is, may not be clear. But in our hearts, if we’re honest, as we see our friends slow down, calm down, ponder, not propel through their days, we know. We may choose not to acknowledge it until we’re forced to; we may decide denial is the best option for as long as we can; we might pretend not to notice the age-clouded eyes, knowing sight is less important than smell to our canine friend. But in our hearts we’ll know.
This is what we sign up for when we bring dogs into our lives. We know, or at least should know that they’re utterly dependent on us for everything. From birth to death, their whole life span needs us to be good humans and excellent friends, putting their needs before our own. And this is never more important than in their twilight.
We’re there now with Twinkle. She’s twilighting in her uniquely Twinklesque way. She continues to dominate my days from the moment I wake and wonder what she’ll feel like doing today. What her body will let her do. Some days are perkier than others.
I know our time together is limited but I’m sure she doesn’t and that’s what matters. Her day to day energy is less, her legs don’t always work for long but she still demands her food at exactly the same time each day. Until 10 days ago when she didn’t. When her appetite was absent. And impending gloom fell on the household. But, a visit to our vet put things right. For how long, who knows? Who ever knows what’s ahead?
She has lumps which worry us although mercifully not her; surgery’s been discussed but is out of the question – too risky, too much for her at this stage in life. She has medications we hope are slowing her infirmity and anything else going on. I have my head set on being here with her every hour of every day. And with great gratitude to how life pans out, I can be. I don’t leave her side except for the briefest occasions that I have to. They’re fleeting and I have no travel plans for the foreseeable. Twinkle and I are travelling this road together; it may still be a long one, I fervently hope it is so. But realistically I know that’s unlikely. But our journey is one where I strive to ensure our days are not counted, but savoured, moment by moment.
Twinkle’s colossal character has filled our home for 6 years and almost 6 months. She remains the small dog with giant ears and even bigger personality that she has always been with me. She makes me laugh all the time, although it’s doubtful she means to.
So long as we know she’s not suffering she stays with us – our vet constantly assures me she is not. I ask, yes, do I ask, in my faltering French and then just to be absolutely certain nothing is lost in translation I make sure Michel asks too. And our wonderful, compassionate Dr Esculier assures me again, never minding he’s done it multiple times that she is not suffering, but she is old.
Old and frail in body, but a bold and brave dog who needs me to be the same. And I try, hard. I think I am, I hope I am. I will be the person she needs me to be, the one she deserves to see us all through this part of our journey which is maturing into a life affirming fullness which only Twinkle and I can ever really know the full depth of.
Her journey to this point has not been easy, her life has been tough, but for the last few years, it’s been full of kindness, total devotion and respect for her. It could easily have been different if she hadn’t been lifted from the darkness of the puppy farm. I take comfort knowing that inspite of her inner demons which she hasn’t ever fully released, she’s known greater love and happiness than if fate had turned its back the day rescuers visited that puppy farm.
I know what’s coming, but it’s always coming, we just never know what, and when. And so I do my best to stay in the present, to treasure every moment with Twinkle, now more than ever before (and our life has been full of such treasures, she’s our twinkly gem after all).
She may well be with us for months yet and I sincerely hope she is. I never thought back in February when Albert Claude joined us and the only way she could get out was with the buggy, that she’d be here enjoying the sunflowers.
So, while I inwardly acknowledge what is before me, equally, I’m not writing off my courageous, bossy Boss Twinkle, not yet awhile. But it feels right to prepare, in my head, to contain my thoughts, to keep them where Twinkle needs them to be. Quietly at one side. But there. To be faced when needed. But not yet.