I’ve been at a loss this week. A breaking point. Or maybe past the breaking point. I feel broken. I am broken. I’m at the point where I hold back tears going to bed and I wake up angry, uninterested in moving forward in the day. The last few months have been tough. And every day I’ve held my head up and moved forward. Everyday I’ve put my hope into the possibilities, a future where I’ll move past the pains and feel better. And I have. The disappointment of leaving Guatemala is there, but I’m settled in the idea that we’ll somehow figure something else out. All my plans kept changing, but I’ve convinced myself that this is just life and how it works sometimes… and maybe this will just be a year of uncomfortable shifts. I could go through the list of all the things I wanted this year. All the things I tried at and failed, but I think you guys know them well by now.
It was hard enough deciding to leave a trip that I had put all my love and energy into this year. To leave Nepal and come back to the states with another two weeks planned in India. I had already woken up sad the morning of the flight back home. Discouraged and disheartened by our change in plans. And then the call from my mom came in. As soon as she asked if we could talk on the phone, I knew something was wrong. And I knew what was wrong. I was certain that something was happening with Jerry.
And as we spoke, I broke down. Two hours before boarding my flights to come back to the states and I was learning that my dog was dying. And may or may not make it long enough for me to say good-bye. He’s had a good long run, I know this. I know most owners aren’t lucky enough to say they’re dog lived past the age of 17. Hell, I’ve had him 11+ full years to myself and I know most owners aren’t even able to say they’ve had that with their dog. But still, I never expected this loss to hurt this bad.
Everyday I’ve been upset. Every day all these emotions of pain and loss for Jerry… and everything else that has happened this year are building up and bursting out. Another week another painful loss.
I’m at a loss (after a million others) and I don’t know how to deal anymore.
We made it back to my moms in time to say goodbye. And I know that we’re lucky because we weren’t supposed to be here this week. We are supposed to be in the jungles of India now. We we’re supposed to be on a trip that we’ve wanted to do together for years. And as much as I’m sad and upset that my health got in the way of something else yet again… and made us postpone our trip, I know I’m lucky too. I know that had my stomach been okay… that we would be in India now. That Jerry would have passed and we wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye.
We noticed something was wrong with Jerry on our drive up to Massachusetts. Mid-miscarriage we picked up Jerry from a friend, packed up our car and drove north. And in a hotel room in Washington DC the peeing started. We thought, “Maybe he’s cold.” You know, he’s from Arizona. He’s never had real cold. “Maybe the cold is in his bones, making him shake, making him pee.” And it continued. And we thought, “maybe it’s his age and the change. It’s a big change for this pup too.” But as it got worse and after no amount of sweaters, heaters, or cuddles helped, we took him to the vet.
A few visits and an ultrasound later: cancer in his bladder. And we knew it was growing quickly. We gave him the prescribed meds and at first, it helped. The accidental peeing slowed and mostly stopped. It was supposed to slow the growth and decrease the inflammation– a way for the tumor to stop pressing. We started making his dog food again, just like I had done years ago, to keep his appetite up and prevent him from losing more weight.
And it helped for a while.
But here we are. We knew the signs to look out for– that if at any point he stopped urinating: he was in big trouble. That the tumor would be blocking his urine and his bladder could and would explode. And I guess the morning before we would return (the night for us since we were on the other side of the world), it happened. No more pee. And my mom and step dad rushed Jerry to the hospital. They were given two options. 1. to put him down before his bladder explodes. 2. try a catheter– something that might work or might fail– but if it worked, it could hold him off for a bit longer. And with no guarantee, my mom asked for the catheter, a hope to make him last a few more days for us while we made the two-day journey back to her home.
It worked. Thankfully it worked.
The next two days my family spent their time making sure to manually empty out the urine from my poor old dog. Something no one would have to do for him or for us– but I’m so grateful they did.
I think the hardest part about everything is that he looked fine when we came home– or at least the same as when we left him. No noticeable discomfort or pain. Other than his bladder, he was still strong. He was walking, eating, sleeping, everything was fine. But still, we found ourselves with no other option but to give in to the inevitable. We knew it was his time. And no matter how much I want to change every single thing that has happened the last few months and no matter how tired I am of loss: it was his time and I lost my dog.
The longest commitment I’ve ever made. The thing I magically kept alive for years— even in some of my rougher, most self-deprecating years. The pet that Marlowe has known her entire life. The thing she grew up with. From day one of Marlowe’s life she’s had two things: me and Jerry. He’s always been there. For me and for her.
And later, she would gain Alex in her life too. But never anything more in her immediate home and family. The loss of an actual sibling/my miscarriage this year was lessened by the fact that we could reunite with our dog. The very day that I went in for a d+c to complete my miscarriage— we picked him up from our friends house to continue our journey with Jerry again. But less than two months later, he’s gone.
The dog that has moved with me a million times over with me. A runaway from the dry desert of Arizona. He road-tripped by my side to a new home in South Florida. To West Palm Beach, to Miami (three separate homes in Miami), to Lake Worth and back to West Palm Beach again. He never made it to Guatemala, but really, neither did we.
He ran away all the time. I made friends with homeless men in my neighborhood because they would bring back the tip jack Russell that dug his way out too many times. But that’s how he found his way to me too. A rescue wearing a Budweiser bandana in a shelter in Arizona. He was impossibly challenging when I first brought him home. 7 years old and never house trained. Even being ridiculous enough to climb into my laundry basket to make my pile of clothes his own personal toilet. I spoke to him in Spanish for months, because he never seemed to understand what I was saying in English. He fought with bufo toads more times than he should– needing a stomach pump twice. And still, he chased those toads for years after… until his greying vision no longer allowed it. One of my first (and very weird) blog-posts ever was about Jerry peeing on a ball. He’s a weird little dog. A creature that could never sit still very long, unless you needed him by your side… or until age forced him to. He loved the heat and loved the chase in life.
I’m grateful for that pup. He slept by me for sometimes 14 hour days when I was pregnant, with nausea, and alone and in need of love. He loved me the same every time I came back to him after leaving him with friends or family for days or weeks at a time. He was a good little man.
It’s taken me a whole week to finish this post. A whole week to get myself together and all the things I’ve been struggling with. It’s been a tough week and a tough few months in general, but losing Jerry might have been the must gut wrenching part. Love you Jerber, thank you for always being there for me. We love you.
RIP Jerry ‘the dog’ Garcia.