Sunday, November 16, 2008

Losing Kristi

Friends, I debated whether or not to add this piece to my postings. I like that most things here are upbeat or irreverent. Still, this one became a labor of love and while it is still an unfinished story I thought I would include it. I wrote this out in May this year. And, I don't think I can tell one story without the other.

I’ve been away for a while. Shortly after I posted my very hopeful New Year’s blog I had to say good-bye to my beautiful greyhound, Kristi.

All of the fears I had ever harbored about this event were played out in those three days in January. I had hoped that when her time came she would slip peacefully into a never ending sleep. That was not to be the case. Instead she endured pain, suffering, confusion and panic the last days of her life. She remained alert, loving and brave throughout. I had no idea that an animal could display and teach grace.

She was born and bred to run, retired from racing and 13 years old. We couldn’t fix her leg, we couldn’t even amputate. The bone was crumbling. She wouldn’t survive the surgery; she would never recover. There were two options. One was to medicate her and mask the pain as much as possible for whatever days remained and the other was to give her my final gift. As the vet administered the injection I held her and my breath. All too quickly her muscles relaxed, her breathing slowed and her eyes unfocused. I could feel her spirit, life and soul slip away. The moment her heart stopped beating mine broke completely.

Months have passed and the loss today is as fresh and heartbreaking as it was that cold January morning. My fear now is that I will grieve so long that the best parts of our time together will be overshadowed. I won’t wash her blanket or put away her picture or try to remove her from my days in any way. I carry her tags with me sometimes so I can hear them as I did when she was with me and wearing them. The vet’s office gave me a clay imprint of her paws. But, the most enduring memory of my beautiful girl is the imprint she left on my soul.

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