Steve showed me a blog the other day that has a young woman's (one of the beautiful youtube vlogger-types) countdown to suicide, ..90 days, 89 days, etc. I only glanced at the site, but what i saw was convoluted drama. As I lie here with Belly, having quite a long and intense chat with her, I realized that we're in our own countdown, Belly and I. We might not know the number of days (at least I don't), but we have been slowly acknowledging that our days together are numbered. I cannot fully speak for her, except the parts of our conversation she has made fully clear to me, but I am already seeing that she is going to be the incredible teacher to me in her death that she has been through all the stages of our life together. She has taught me to care for another. She has taught me to care for myself. She has taught me consistency. She has taught me responsibility. She has been a patient teacher, withholding judgments of my pace of learning. She will teach me how to grieve in ways I cannot yet imagine. Maybe she'll help me heal my fear of death.
As we lay here, I have deep appreciation for our vet, Sarah Greene. Sarah has taught me to be a better mom/companion/caretaker to Belly through her consistent respect for and communication with Belly. The deep dignity she accords the animals models so much for me. I would always have considered myself very close and connected to Belly, but Sarah continues to remind me to be even more consistent, more attentive to Belly's needs. When we go to Sarah, often the children aren't with me or, if they are, they see that this is Belly's turn to get attention, that this is where Belly comes first. I can't think of a single other vet (and I've had some really great and kind ones, like Irving Street Clinic in San Francisco) that felt like a haven, like a place of renewal. Her love and dedication are astounding and inspiring. She is not afraid of the love I have for my dog. She will share this journey with me.