Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Letting Go

Welcome guest Carrie Wren, on letting go of her precious pup, Sugar.
Sugar, 15 years. That’s what the handwritten sign on her cage at the animal hospital had said. Really, I wondered? 15? Had it been that long? I did the math in my head, and concluded that yes, maybe that was true, although she’s only been in my life for 9 or 10. We first met her in the Sears parking lot, my ex-husband and I. We signed the adoption paperwork, shook the foster mother’s hand, and were on our way. She earned her name on the ride home in my parents’ loaner pickup truck: Sugar, we decided, because her favorite thing is to give kisses.
I lift my head up from where it had been resting on her back. I stroke the soft blanket of fur that cloaks her skeletal frame, and notice there is a damp patch where my head had been. I am puzzled until I realize it’s my tears that have soaked her fur. I notice a faint rumbling in my stomach and remember it’s been hours since I’ve last eaten. It’s been almost a week for her. I feel guilty about wanting to eat when she cannot.
We both drift in and out of sleep, waiting. I pick up my phone and turn it over to check the time. Only an hour before the doctor arrives. Time is running out. I suddenly remember the song I used to sing her in the old house. I recall dancing around the room with her in my arms, the look on her face somewhere between motion sick and happy to be contributing to my happiness. I reach for my phone and scroll through my music library until I find the song. I press play, and immediately am jarred by the peppiness of the music. Still, I sing along, substituting her name in the same places in the lyrics that I always had, my voice cracking the whole time.
The phone rings. I answer, expecting the call.
Yes, this is she.
Yes, we’re here.                                                               
Ok. Thank you.
I hang up without saying goodbye.
Soon, the doctor arrives. She speaks in quiet tones that I understand are supposed to be comforting. She explains that the first injection will make Sugar feel good, and that the second will make her feel nothing. “Are you ready?” she asks. No. I could never be ready.
I had thought that it would take longer, that it would be a process. It only takes a minute, maybe two. The doctor places her stethoscope against my girl’s skin and listens, just to be sure. She is sure.
“Do you want to spend some time with her?” the doctor asks. I shake my head, and pull myself out of the bed where we have been curled up together since picking her up from the hospital earlier today. My body feels so heavy. There is no “her” left to spend time with.
The doctor’s footsteps are so soft as she walks through my hallway on her way outside to retrieve the basket she brought to remove Sugar’s body. It’s like the way you walk when you’re trying very hard not to disturb someone who’s asleep. I realize that just like her deliberately low and quiet voice, she intends her quiet steps as a small act of kindness. I stand at my kitchen counter, awkwardly shuffling papers, just wanting this to be over with. Why had I said that I wanted to be alone for this?
She comes back in with the basket, not needing to knock. She shows herself back to my bedroom. “Can you please take the blanket at the end of the bed?” I ask. It’s the one they had sent her home from the hospital in this afternoon. I never wanted to see that blanket again.
She returns moments later, carrying the basket, this time with Sugar lying inside. The blanket is wrapped around her, soft red and green plaid. She looks like a Christmas present. I reach out to touch the spot on the side of her face, where the fur is the softest. The doctor turns to leave, meeting my eyes. No words are needed. She gingerly walks across the threshold, closing the door with a soft click behind her.

Friday, July 1, 2016

On Finding Yourself Where You Need to Be

My daughter recently reminded me of this blog post in WNC Women's Magazine from a couple years ago, which I'd all but forgotten. It is a fun one! Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Thank you, Southern Writers Magazine, for allowing me this guest post in Suite T. You rock!

Thursday, July 10, 2014