Saturday was a year since my mom died from COVID. My sister and I got Macho in the car, and we drove to the cemetery for the first time since her burial. We didn’t consider that she is in an Orthodox Jewish cemetery (though she was anything but Orthodox), and it is closed on Shabbos. We thought that maybe it was better that we weren’t able go to her grave, because the grief would be overwhelming. We went back to my house. I made corned beef and cabbage in her honor. We ate and talked and cried a little and laughed a lot. I’m not sure if my mom would have been happy or sad about that. She loved us and wanted us to be happy, but she was also a bit of a drama queen and wouldn’t have minded a little rending of garments in grief.
Sunday started like any other. I woke up, and Machie was a little lump under the comforter as usual. I went to wash my face and brush my teeth, and when I went back to my room, Machie had dug his way out from under the cover and was looking at me in anticipation. He went deaf about a year or so ago, so we had our own sign language. I signed “Hungry?” His answer was always yes. He jumped off the bed and ran to the glass door in the dining room. I let him out to pee and went to the kitchen to prepare his breakfast. He gobbled it up like always. Then I made my breakfast. I cut 5 slices of sausage, 4 to go with my eggs and 1 to cut up to feed to Machie while I was cooking. I always made sure that some egg would stick to the bottom of the pan. I would spoon the eggs onto my plate, and then I’d put the pan under a little water, and the stuck egg would magically release from the pan. That went into Machie’s bowl for his second breakfast after I was done eating.
The day went on with nothing out of the ordinary. Macho whined so I would give him his favorite doggie cookies. I would throw them from my desk to his bed on the floor of my room, and he would search for them when they fell behind the bed. He took several naps, on his bed in my room, his bed in the living room and on the La-Z-Boy recliner/rocker he claimed as his very own the day he came to live with me. He was always exhausted when my sister came to visit, so it wasn’t unusual for him to be tired the next day. He had his dinner and then came to stare at me with his big brown puggle eyes to demand something for dessert. I told him he would have to wait.
Later on, he kept going to the back door, and I kept letting him out. Back in February or March, after noticing that he had to pee much more often than usual, I took him to the vet. They did a urinalysis, and the doctor prescribed some antibiotics. I didn’t see any more blood after that, but he still had to pee frequently. In April, I saw blood again, and I took him back to the vet. They did an ultrasound, and the doctor said there was a mass at the neck of his bladder. He said that it was probably cancer, but they couldn’t tell until they did a litany of tests. I asked what they could do if it was cancer, and the vet said there really wasn’t anything. I asked what they could do if it wasn’t cancer, and the answer was the same. I decided that I wouldn’t put him through all of that for nothing, and I would take Machie home and let him live his best life. The doctor game him some anti-inflammatories to see if that would help. They did help some, so I scoured the internets and found that turmeric was an natural anti-inflammatory, and I ordered some for him. Life went on. Machie still had to pee often, but he was happy and healthy otherwise. Just three days ago, this was him on the couch after I put boxes on the cushions so he couldn’t jump up.
Macho never thought the rules applied to him, and he couldn’t even fake remorse.
Back to last night. After dinner, he constantly went to the back door, and I kept letting him out. This went on and on, and either I couldn’t figure out what was going on, or I was in denial. When he came inside and stood over his little bed in my bedroom and looked like he was trying to pee, I finally realized what was going on. I felt like my heart had dropped to my knees. I got his collar and leash and took him for what would be our last walk together. I realized that, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t pee at all. I knew what that meant. By then, it was after 3 in the morning. I called my sister, praying that she would hear the phone. It took 3 tries, but she finally woke up and texted me. I told her what was going on, but when she heard the phone, she more or less knew. She met me at the vet’s office, and by a few minutes after 4, it was all over. He was usually afraid to go to the vet, but this time, he was a very brave boy. Here he is during our last time together with the blanket they brought in for him.
It was so peaceful. He just went to sleep. I kept my hands on him, and I could feel when his lungs stopped expanding. When it was over, I covered him, because he always loved to sleep under the blanky.
I’m rambling, because I don’t know what’s important to say. I wanted so much for him to be here for his 15th birthday on September 16th, and I really thought he would be. I wanted him to be at home when I had to say goodbye to him, but I knew that I couldn’t allow him to suffer. I tried in the last few months to remember all the funny and cute and quirky things he did, but I knew from experience that that wasn’t possible. One day, I will see another dog do something, and I will suddenly recall that my little Machie used to do that. I will scroll though the hundreds, if not thousands of pictures I have taken of him and will hope I will remember the circumstances. The one thing that I know for sure is that I will love him and miss him for the rest of my life. He was annoying, and he whined, and he had separation anxiety, so I could never leave him alone (during the pandemic, I would have to take him shopping with me and leave him in the car with the emergency brake and the a/c on). He was relentless when he wanted something, and the entire house is covered with his fur. Somehow, I will miss all those things, but most of all I will miss being loved as unconditionally and as fervently as he loved me, and I will miss being able to show him how much I loved him.
Sleep well, my baby.