“Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone”
An excerpt from the novel Paws and Reflect
By Susi Beatty
© 2011 Susi B. Marketing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
May 19, 2010
We said goodbye on a hot and humid spring morning on our back deck. I knew what was about to happen, but seeing her like that, so completely torn up, just broke my heart.
My body, riddled with bone cancer, was barely present. My brain was functioning fairly well considering all the meds I was on. The day before, we went to the doctor and he had placed a morphine patch on the inside of my hind leg. She had been giving me zanax to help me cope with the anxiety from all the pain I was in. Even though I knew it was time to move on, to meet my Creator, I was devastated about leaving my family behind – especially her.
I was ready to be out of pain but not at this price. I was more worried about her pain than mine. To make matters worse, I didn’t like the guy she had been with for the last year or so. He was mean. He didn’t love her and I knew it. None of us liked him, never did. We just tolerated him for her sake. He constantly found new ways to hurt her and I just never understood why. All she ever did was give. In fact, now that I think about it, that’s all she ever did. She always took care of us without hesitation. But when she got sick, he complained about everything. I know it killed her when he complained about carrying me up and down the stairs because she was too ill and weak to do it. He was a horse’s ass, and all he did was use her and hurt her. And there were not enough treats in the world to make me call him “Daddy.” Not once, not ever, no way.
She had been in and out of the hospital for the last two months. I had missed her so much but I knew the doctors were working hard to get her well. I understood what was happening to me, so I tried to be strong. When she came home from the hospital and took one look at me, she knew. With tears in her eyes, she laid her weak body beside mine and held me for hours. About 20 hours I think, but my mind was foggy from all the pain killers. She kept apologizing. I wish I could’ve told her it was okay, that I understood. I didn’t want her to get any worse. She knew she had to let me go and it was the saddest day of our life together. Over twelve years had flown by. Where had the time gone? I couldn’t stand to see her sick or unhappy. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever known, and I will always love her. She’s the best Mommy in the world.
Early the next morning, I laid there beside her and listened to her make all the arrangements. We had discussed everything before she started making calls. The Pastor from our church would be at the house by 10:45, Grandma and Granddad would be there as soon as they could, Sara would be there because it was her day to clean anyway, and the Doctor and another one of my favorite people from the vet clinic would come at 11:15 to give me one last shot. I really hated shots. At 11:30 the Hearst would arrive to take my remains to the Crematorium.
They would bring me to her the next day, what was left of me, in an urn she had carefully picked out. So in a little less than an hour, the last few minutes of my life on earth was all planned.
When everyone in the family arrived, we all hung out together on the deck just like old times. Summer, my fourteen year old sister (from another mother) came out in the heat and lay beside me in my bed. Lukie, my little brother, wanted to play. He was barely a year old. It was Selah who was hard to reach. I had helped Mom raise her from a puppy, and it took her a long time to come say goodbye. Eventually she came over and sat on me just like she had always done. I had always been her personal sofa. She had always sat on me, right on my side when I was laying down, sometimes even straddling me. She was so silly. She continued to do this even long after she had grown up and had become a Mom herself (Lukie was her little boy). She was the baby I never had and I loved her so. We spent countless hours together snuggling, taking naps, and play fighting like dinosaurs. I knew she was having a rough time with this, so I licked her face and told her to be strong for Mom.
When the Doctor arrived, I said a final goodbye to my sisters and brother, Summer, Selah, and Lukie. They weren’t allowed to watch.
Granddad went inside too. He came outside and prayed with me, but couldn’t bear to watch me die. Grandma and Mom sat on a stool together on the ground just below the deck. This way we were eye to eye. I had never seen my Mommy and Grandma so upset. Grandma held my Mommy so tight, with both arms wrapped around her middle. Mom held my face in her hands, talking me through it. Suddenly I had a change of heart. I licked every tear off of her face…I licked and licked, stalling as long as I could. Then the first shot came. My body felt so warm and dreamy. She was crying so hard and I didn’t want to leave her like this. She needed me. The second shot felt like a bullet to the heart. I shook my head violently “NO! Not yet!”
The next thing I knew I was looking down at my old worn out body laying there with my Mommy hunched over me. I was leaving, I was moving on. I don’t know why I was so surprised; it was what we had planned. It was what we had decided to do together. It was the right thing to do. I didn’t hurt anymore. My body was young and healthy again. But I felt empty because I missed her warm caress instantly. I couldn’t feel her touching me anymore. I had told Lukie to keep an eye on her, to take over my job, because now I would be watching over her from above. An angel of the Lord was there to greet me, and just as I had been loved on earth, I now felt the intense love of God. I knew I would always be her angel, her Sunshine bear, but as I left this place I longed for her touch just one more time.
Dying is not for the faint of heart. But I will tell you this, there’s nothing but love on the other side. The worst part is leaving them, leaving her. She and I were meant to be together, because God designed it that way. And I know some day we will be together again. I’ll be waiting.