How much do I really share with everyone about the night Sunny died? Just how much do I expose of my heart, thoughts, feelings, and uncertainty?
In praying for guidance, courage and humility I have realized that the essence or point is to share what we typically have difficulty in sharing and voicing. To give a voice to the many deep challenges that arise when faced in those last years, months, days, hours and last breaths before a loved one dies is the whole point! No one talks much about this process that seems to be a taboo topic. And very little is written about end of life care, thoughts and feelings in relation with people, much less in relation with animals!
And so with this purpose, to share what has always seemed to be the unspeakable and unbearable, I offer more of my story with my beloved Sun-Sun. May you find support, comfort and inspiration from this letter I wrote to Sunny a few weeks after he died on 4/4/08.
It was a hard night my friend, that last one with you. I crave to understand more of what was actually going on for you. There was so much going on all at once; between your decline those last weeks, vet calls and vet visit, working, your 35th birthday party the Saturday before you left, my birthday and our friend’s decline on Sunday, I was exhausted before you even went down Thursday, that last night. Then, all week I was so preoccupied with our friend having landed in the Emergency Room on Monday and her stay in Hospital until Thursday. Sigh.
Sunny, have I thanked you for waiting to leave until she actually came home from the hospital on Thursday? Well, I thank you Sun-Sun. With everything going on, if you had left even a day earlier, I might have landed in the Emergency Room myself. But, in your infinite wisdom of timing, I suppose some part of you knew that didn’t you?
Have I thanked you for waiting until after your birthday party? Or thanked you for making it to your party? I wonder how much of your waiting was for me, and
how much of it was for you? Does it matter at this point? To know this seems so small and insignificant now…it was a sweet, sweet party and celebration of your life, wasn’t it Sun-Sun? You have touched the lives of many, many people over the years.
And I know your work is not over, that it is taking on new forms, and that even this letter is part of our work together. I was so moved when you stopped your struggling to listen to me talk about how I knew that our work would continue when you left your body Sun-Sun. My recognition of that out loud to you seemed to mean something to you. I don’t know why I had never thought to say that to you before. I was talking with our helper extraordinaire, Joyce Harman, DVM, the day before you went down. I told her that I knew our work would continue with the writing of your story and these times of extended care during your last year and a half. She said this would be good, to write about it all and to share it with others. A lovely last bit of support to the many contributions she made for your living and dying my friend.
Your struggle that night Sunny, it seemed such a mixture of things. I know there was some pain and distress in your belly. What else was going on inside? Did you have internal bleeding? What kind of pain were you in? Was it the struggle between staying and leaving your body?
The instinct to stand was so deeply and strongly present. Your back legs just quit working didn’t they? I know that was so frustrating to you. I had so hoped for a gentle and quiet passing for you. The struggle that ensued was not what I expected. I had thought that since you had gone to the brink so many times that when it was really time, you would be able to leave with ease and grace.
Was Grace there waiting for you to help you on the other side? I hope so. I hope that other friends were there to greet you and help carry you over also. I wish I could have seen the beings of light surrounding you that night to tell you about it and maybe soothe your soul and journey. I was too embroiled in the physical realm with you I guess I could not extend my senses outward like this. You struggled right up to your last breaths my friend. Although I know some things about that night, I cannot tell what was going on really.
Your will and instinct were incredibly strong to get up. Your hind legs failing while you scooted around the stall, your front legs shaking under the strain of trying to power you up on all four again. Using your last threads of strength while struggling as hard as you possibly could to upright yourself once again to get up off the ground, to no avail. Dropping back to the ground exhausted, only to try again and again. Me, I also felt helpless at that point.
When you got up against the side of the shed with your head lying just outside in the mud puddle and cold rain, oh Sunny, I felt desperate. We had had talks about lying in cold puddles Sun-Sun. And on this night I could do nothing to help you move your big old horse body out of the rain. I was so distraught right along with you.
As you struggled, the mud ruts got deeper, and the water kept seeping underneath your precious body. You were getting wet for what seemed like forever. I finally began asking for guidance out loud. Was there was anything, anything at all we could possibly do to help keep you dry, warm, and more comfortable?
Guidance came quickly and we went to work for our long last night together with several unexpected turns.
Please stay tuned for more from my letter to Sunny in upcoming posts.