A day can be a terrible thing. Lives change in a day. Lives can change in minutes and thus a day is packed full of chances for your life to change. Even when you sense a change, even when you halfway expect it to happen, those changes hit you. Life is like a train with neither color nor sound. You never hear it coming, never see it, although you can -if you are careful and observant- feel the rumblings of its approach. Sometimes that is enough, sometimes it allows you to get out of the way, avoid the train barreling down upon you. Or sometimes you can prepare for it and grasp it quickly as it passes, allowing life and its changes to transport you someplace different, someplace new. Hopefully someplace better.
And sometimes, despite knowing that it’s coming, sensing its approach, the train slams into you, shattering your world.
Today I learned that my dog Boomer has a very aggressive cancer. Without doubt, he will die. How so depends on the result from a CT scan and the removal of the tumor, a surgery that could leave him incontinent. Even after the surgery, he will die. He can take chemo, but he will still die. The best chemo can offer is 10-12 months of quality life. Nothing I can do will save him. Some of you might be cocking an eyebrow right now, wondering at the tone of this post, at the amount of pain I am feeling, thinking to yourself: “it’s just a dog”. Not to be rude, but I pity you if you feel that, for you’ve never experienced such a bond with another non-human living being. This dog ranks amongst my best of friends and for certain a loved one. Obviously my wife and my father are more beloved, but the dog is an equal in my heart to many of my other friends. He was a solace to me in one of my darkest times, when I had nothing and no one and was alone in an environment where no one cared for me nor was concerned with my happiness. He was my friend and my comfort and I love him for that. So, cock your eyebrows if you must but know that I am the richer for his presence and you are diminished by the lack of his kine in your lives.
My wife and I have jointly decided to go forward with the surgery: if it can give him even only a year of good life, we will give him as much of it as we can. I could not conceive of anything other than that. He’s brought a lifetime (his) of joy into my life and my hope is that I can return that favor for the remainder of his life. I don’t have any greater lesson or message to give. I’m hurting and my heart is breaking, but I’m also grateful. I’ve gone through with this with other people: my grandfather, my grandmother, Mom. Cancer is my bitter adversary, my most hated of foes and is a cruel shadow on my life and the lives of those I love. I know I will never defeat it, but I can and will endure it. Boomer is with me and I’m going to make sure that his life is full of love until the end. I am thankful for that honor.
This is not a post about writing. It is a post about living. Living is gruesome and beautiful in hopefully equal -but usually not- portions. I am sure in time, what I feel today will seep into my writing. Hell, it already has, here, now. I wish I could say more, or post something more hopeful, but that is not the freight this train has brought. It will take time for me to unpack this, to understand what I’ve received and find someplace for it where it does not always hurt, always remind me. I’ve lived enough to know that will happen. Just not now.