Today is Sparkey's last full day on Earth, and we've spent the day doing that which would bring him pleasure and ease.
After a quiet morning at home, we walked the one minute stroll down to our neighborhood pond and set up shop with blankets, water, snacks, and camera, a small rainbow smiling down upon us for over an hour, a Great Blue Heron standing meditatively in the reeds. A number of friendly neighbors happened by and wished Sparkey bon voyage. Even our favorite mail carrier who always brings our dogs special treats---even treats wrapped with shiny ribbon on Christmas---stopped and said goodbye. It was sweetly sad, and Sparkey seemed to take it all in stride, going down to the water's edge every half hour or so to drink pond water and eat tender shoots of grass. We must have taken 100 photographs, some of which will make their way to Latter Day Sparks in the weeks and months to come.
Unbeknownst to us, Sparkey even snuck out of the house this morning when Mary left the door propped open for a moment, and our neighbor saw him out her window and brought him home. She felt very clearly that he had performed that little maneuver so that he could will her to look out her window and see him, allowing them to connect one last time. She and he have a long history of running into one another during Sparkey's great escapes, and he seems to always enjoy the process.
A short trip to our little town yielded some sweet time in a small downtown park that we frequent with the dogs, each of us taking turns scooping water out of the fountain, letting the dogs drink from our cupped hands. Sparkey kept nudging Tina out of the way in order to keep drinking. Some sweet treats from the local bakery piqued Sparkey's interest to some extent, but not as much as a small outdoor covered container set up with water and cat food for some downtown strays. He made a bee-line for the container, put his head inside, and helped himself to some stinky wet cat food. What could I do? He had his fill and we mosied along.
Now we will while away the hours of the evening. A dear friend was going to help me dig a grave in the front yard this evening in preparation for tomorrow, but that has now been postponed so that our son and I can do that task together in the morning, rain or shine. Rene will roll into town later tonight in order to spend a final night with his childhood pal. I wish we could post photos from the days when Sparkey was a pup and Rene was a little tow-headed nine-year-old, but we don't have a scanner. Maybe we'll borrow one.....
We cry intermittently, sometimes feeling OK, sometimes not. At times, the reality of what will happen tomorrow hits one of us, we realize that the hours together with Sparkey are ticking away, and we feel a wave of grief as well as somatic feelings of nausea and lightheadedness. It's a strange feeling of waiting, dread, grief, joy, relief, and disbelief. This creature has made himself part and parcel of our souls, and his departure from our midst seems somehow impossible. A childlike part of my mind keeps playing tricks, hoping that the vet will somehow decide that he's OK, or he'll make some miraculous recovery overnight. Ths morning, he was on our bed, head hanging off the side in a way that he would never usually do, and I thought he had peacefully died in his sleep. I found myself looking at him, hoping that that might be the case, but was also so very glad to see his bony chest rise and fall.
So many feelings, so many sensations. This being human is physically and emotionally draining and simultaneously wondrous. We all know that grief lessens with time, but I feel that this is really going to be a long one. There will be so many reminders---every day---and although it will get easier over time, my soul is just so very deeply connected with that furry creature who we call Sparkey.
I breathe deeply now, steadying my mind and stomach and heart, and hold him in my mind's eye as he rests in the next room. A number of people have looked Sparkey in the eyes in the last two days and acknowledged that, yes, he is uncomfortable and ready to go, supporting our decision and praising us for doing the right thing. Even a stranger at the park today said, "He looks uncomfortable". We know this is right, but at the same time nothing can make it right. It just is, and we're here together by choice. I truly believe that Sparkey is a member of my soul family, and our connection will continue on. Letting go is a lesson in this life, and here is one more piece of grist for that venerable mill of release and surrender.
So be it.