I had planned on my next post being somewhat of a wrap-up from my weekend trip to Florida a few days ago.
I was going to tell you about drinking sparkling wine on the balcony overlooking the marina, laying out at the breezy beach, tanning in the serene "quiet zone" of the grown-up pool, floating past the mini-waterfalls of the pool's lazy river and getting flashed by my brother-in-law's bare ass before going to see Fiddler on the Roof. (Hey, they can't all be Hallmark moments.)
It was a great weekend -- much needed by all of us.
But instead of looking back on the weekend and thinking fondly about all those things, I'll always look back on this as the weekend my dog died. My baby girl.
While putting on my makeup on Sunday night in Florida to go to dinner, my cell phone rang. It was my brother. Since he's moving to Chicago this summer, I figured he was calling about apartment-related matters.
I answered the phone with a chipper, "Hey!"
"What's up?" I tried again.
When my brother spoke, he was more shaken up than I'd ever seen him. He told me that Monty had 2 seizures.
"You mean, what, she just started shaking?" I asked.
"No," he said flatly. "She dropped to the ground and convulsed for a full minute. Right in front of me."
My heart sank. My stomach churned. The mascara quietly slipped out of my hand.
My brother told me that they were taking Monty to the hospital to get her checked out. On the way there, she had another seizure in the car. While getting checked out, she had a fourth seizure -- except this one caused her to stop breathing. She turned blue and had to be intubated. They medicated her, removed the tube and gave her oxygen while someone sat with her all night for observation.
While all of this was happening, I was in Florida, helpless and terrified.
If they can just keep her on some meds, I thought, I can catch a flight home to see her this week. Heck, maybe she'll come out of it. Maybe she just has epilepsy and will need to be on more medication to control it. We're talking about a dog that survived cancer! She's tough! She could be okay, I told myself.
I didn't sleep much that night. I didn't talk much in the morning. I was numb during my flight back to Chicago.
The second the plane touched down, I turned my phone on and saw a text from my sister. "She looks great," sis said. They had picked Monty up from the hospital.
I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding. I called home to get the details and was told that the baby was at home, calm but exhausted. Her blood work came back normal. Mom was keeping an eye on her, but my dad had even gone into work. Monty would be taken into the vet in 15 minutes to see what was going on. I was cautiously optimistic.
Throughout the day, I got several more phone calls and updates from my brother and mom.
Monty failed her neurological exam. The vet thinks this is a primary lesion on her brain. The hospital needs to confirm.
My mom called me, crying, to tell me that they had to put Monty to sleep that afternoon. My baby girl of 11 years -- who almost NEVER missed a night of sleeping on my bed, who gave "hugs" with both paws, who played gently with my mom and I, who greeted my dad when he came home from work every evening -- she wasn't going to be around anymore.
The last time I saw her? That was the last time I'd ever see her. I can't describe how much that stings.
So, at 3:30pm yesterday, my little girl (all dopey from the medication) was brought into a room with my parents and sister so they could say goodbye. They took their time, petting her and talking to her. My mom gave her an extra hug for me. My sister managed to lift the poor 55-pound pup onto the table and my mom kept talking to her the whole time. There were tears from everyone.
Just before 5pm, I got that final phone call. It was done. I lost it.
I spent the rest of the night fluctuating between sobbing and being eerily calm. I watched TV, played DS, drank -- anything to distract myself. A temporary fix, of course, but it got me through the evening.
And now? I don't know. I've been focusing on work, which is good. Today I can think about my dog and not burst into tears, like I did all day yesterday, which is even better. But I still get sick to my stomach thinking about the last two days of her life and the last time I saw her. I guess that's the grief and it will pass with time...
RIP, baby girl. We miss you already.