Friday, December 14, 2012

saying goodbye to Sammy

published March 19

I've waited a while to post this, not only because I needed to put some space between me and the actual event, but also because I needed this time to process all that has happened.

Sammy's last day was as peaceful as we could manage: we gave her a full dose of alprazolam, not the half we'd been giving her to keep her mellow. We fed her a can of wet food, and tuna when she wanted more and we had none. She spent most of the day outside, lying in the flowerbed where the sun was shining. Someone was with her all day: we took it in shifts, sitting with her in the grass, on the sofa, wherever she wanted to be. I actually didn't want to do it - didn't think I could bear it, because I knew that what I was going to do later that evening would be hard enough - but Sid insisted. We have a picture of me with Sammy, sitting in the sun, her head on my boot, sleepy and unaware.

The drive to the vet was terrible. I had intended to go alone, but Sid wanted to be there, too, and so we brought Spagett as well. Everyone at the vet was so nice, so understanding. I remember one of the techs telling me about when she had to euthanize her dog: "It's the hardest decision in the world, isn't it? Like, you don't want to know, but you know."

I don't clearly remember much about what happened. I remember they took her into the back to place a catheter in her leg, and she screamed. Sammy never had much voice, she always squeaked and squawked like she had laryngitis. When I heard that scream, I thought she knows. Perhaps she really did. They brought her back out, and then all I truly recall is holding her, wrapped in a blanket, and telling the vet to go ahead. I remember the hollow feeling in my chest as she injected the medicine into Sammy's leg. She was purring. I do remember feeling so grateful to hear her purr like that, because it had been ages and ages. She started nodding like she was falling asleep. Sid started to cry, and all I could manage was "don't," because I was barely holding it together, myself, and I didn't want to scare Sammy. And then she stopped purring, and that was it.

Afterward, when I carried her out of the vet's office wrapped in that same blanket, there was only relief. It was over. It was the odd peace I felt after Spagett was born, that total stillness of the soul after going through the circles of hell.

It's been almost five months since she died, and it has taken that long for me to tell the story of her last day. Five months, and I still sometimes see a little black shape out of the corner of my eye and turn, totally expecting to see her there.