Did you know when we woke up this morning how things would end? I doubt it. I went to the gym and you hung out with the kids, because it was a Saturday and they were home. We vacuumed, because as usual pieces of you were starting to accumulate on the ground where you lay. Did you know how hairy you were?
Did you know that yesterday, I was supposed to go to spin class but when you saw my shoes you got so excited I stayed home with you instead and we took a walk? It was the longest walk we took since you got sick last month. You smelled everything. I’m glad I skipped class. It was a beautiful day.
Did you know when you first came home to us in 2009, the kids wanted to name you Cutie? They were 5 and 3 so I will forgive them that awful suggestion, but you were and would always be Brody. A lovable goof without a mean bone in his body. Did you know how cute you were? Of course you did.
Did you know my plan was to have you get a splenectomy? You had been doing so, so well, and despite the odds I had allowed myself to think that maybe we could do this and get rid of the main source of your problems. After all, we tested everything last month, and found nothing. Maybe, just maybe, this reprieve could be something more. You had been perfect, like nothing ever happened.
Did you know that you were a good boy? The best. My heart skipped a beat when I saw your muzzle getting gray, a reminder that you are a finite creature. You should live forever.
Did you know that today was Grandpa’s birthday? I asked Brian if we should bring you to his house and he said, “probably.” You were so excited you jumped in the air and spun around and danced a little, and we were all so happy because you were so happy. Right as rain.
Did you know Grandma wasn’t feeling well? You seem to know these things. You clung to her and made her pet you for two hours straight. I told you to leave her alone and stop pestering but she said she didn’t mind.
Did you know what was happening when you went outside and felt the sudden need to lie down? Did you decide, there with all your favorite people in the world together in one room, that this was as good as it gets and maybe this was a good way to wrap things up?
Did you know why I was on the ground with you, pressing on you, poking at your gums, grimacing because all my medical equipment was back at home and not here at Grandma’s? You still wagged your tail. You were at Grandma’s, where life is always good.
Did you know when they gave you those fluids at the hospital that they weren’t helping? That something bigger was going on? Did you know when the doctor put a probe on you and said, “Oh buddy,” that our bonus month was winding to an end? Was this your way of avoiding a splenectomy?
Did you know while you were in the back treatment area at VSH I was on the phone with all my smart friends, desperately trying to figure out if I could get one more day out of you? I couldn’t let you go without talking to the experts at palliation to figure out if I could wrangle out a little more time. I wanted nothing more than to have you at home, surrounded by family, but at that point it meant moving you when you were already unstable, and moving unstable dogs around to make the owners happy goes against everything I’ve ever worked for. So we didn’t.
Did you know how great techs are? I stopped one in the hallway to let him know I wanted to see you, and bless his heart even though he had just clocked out he went and put me in “the room,” you know, the one with the couch and the boxes of tissues. I wish those rooms had dimmers. I played Through a Dog’s Ear from the playlist I always used with clients and told you so many things while you rested your head in my lap and listened patiently.
Did you know why I spoke to you for half an hour? We were waiting for the family to come and I still had so much to tell you. I needed to thank you for all you did for us, for how much you took care of us, of how even when I was home alone I was never actually alone because there you were with your huge brown eyes and your need for attention and you always reminded me that we were so happy as a family.
Did you know that I called you my boy? You belonged to the world. You thought you were a person. When we went to the dog park you’d always end up over with the people trying to insert yourself into the conversation like the person you were. Nonetheless, you were first and foremost my boy.
Did you know why I made a stupid joke? I said if you were a girl we should have named you Eileen, you know, because you were a leaner. You were leaning on Poppa at the time. It was the way mom leaned on you at the end. I had to say something and that’s all I could get out.
Did you know you had the best neck? You could bury yourself in it, and I did, all the time. Coming in second was your ear crimps, and third, your Muppet feet. I will miss all of those things, desperately.
Did you know that I am going to miss your little face resting on the side of the bed on the morning most of all? Did you know that I spent the last twelve hours peering through swollen eyes waiting for you to come up on the couch, to ask for food, to come into the bedroom? Did you know what I would have given to make you whole again? I know that I can’t. Those moments when I forget and wait expectantly for you to come bounding out the front door are the cruel ones. They last a while.
The grief is all consuming, a rusty saw rubbing my throat raw, pushing my teeth out of my gums with a metallic, iron-like aftertaste. It sits on my chest, a cement block pushing out tears, keeping me from breathing in. Did you know that’s what people do when they lose a part of their heart? The pain is actually physical.
Did you know why you were in that room with me and Dad and Poppa and the kids? What a crowd. You found them all with your eyes, and had your first 10 hand massage, which also became your last but that was ok because it was a ten hand massage and each hand belonged to one of your favorite people.
Did you know we’ve all agreed my mother was the one to meet you? Can you please confirm when you get a chance?
Brody, Muppet-feet, the Brodemeister, Brody Boo, you were many things but ‘a dog who wore out his welcome’ was not one of them. Did you know why your neck was so wet? Sorry about that. It always was the place I went to when I needed to cry.
I’m really gonna miss you.