Breathless

“Today is a good day to die”

And so it was, September 25, 2017.

I don’t mean to be morbid or unfeeling.  I am far from unfeeling, but it is a day I planned on since June 16, 2013.  The day I adopted Fred.  My number 2 dog. Fred, the Basset/Beagle… the Bagle.  Adopted because I loved him from the moment I saw his picture on the internet.  I had to have a second dog.

Fredday

I had to have a second dog because too many of my friends like Ann and Steve had shared that when they lost their dog, the pain was so great they knew they could not replace their lost companion.  But because of one Canine spirit I had to get a second pooch.  One dog had brought me so much joy that I knew I could not let pain prevent me from living each day without a fur baby.  And so many of you know who this great spirit is and was.  Tank Fulton… the dog I can never replace…

tankrock

September 25, 2017, a good day to die.

Tank’s final week began on Tuesday, September 18.  I called it visiting day.  I had seen Tank begin to slow down, though his energy would ebb and flow…  He had lost his appetite…

I noticed it for real the month before when we went to Kansas City to visit Annie, and Lynn, and my sister Barb.  But Tank was a trooper.. and he did well on the drive up and back, but he would never eat a great big meal again… even when I fixed him steak. But I digress… or maybe I just am remembering.

I rarely kennelled Tank.  Not it 13 years.  And when I had to leave him since my move to Tulsa… which I rarely did, I entrusted his care to two people.  Tank loved Nancy and Beth.  and so we went visiting.  It was a contrast in styles… he had love for both, but his energy waned as the day lengthened… Nancy first, who saw a boy ready to take on another day, and then Beth who saw an exhausted boy ready to visit the rainbow bridge. I listened to them both… it is why I went visiting.  Their love for Tank was known and their opinions are trusted.

And the week passed.

Off to the dog park to visit friends… but sadly we often missed our favorites… Tank would tire quickly.  I am most sorry that we missed our special friends there and their furry companions… But we tried, we really tried…

Most of the week we just spent together, resting… the park… well the backyard of Casa Canine was park enough for Tank.

Tank was a dog of great spirit and compassion.  And he had eyes that were filled with compassion and life.  That is until they were no longer filled with life.  And so it was on September 25, 2017

It was a good day to die

The night of September 24, 2017.  Tank was restless, pacing the house.  I fell asleep knowing he would come to bed… Tank always came to bed, or at the very least the bedside ottoman at the foot of my bed.  We rarely slept apart.

September 25, 2017.

Tank was missing.  No where in the house.  I have a doggy door.  So I went to look outside.  Tank was in the corner of the side yard, nearly under my window.  I do now know how long he had been standing there.  But the moment I saw him, I knew. Everyone said I would know.  There is no script.  But I knew.

gooddaytodie

Today is a good day to die.

So I made THE appointment and late morning we loaded up to take our final road trip.  The park, the drive around, ice cream and hot dogs from QuikTrip (he ate neither), and time alone together in the air conditioned car just remembering.

And by the end of our conversation, Tank’s gums were turning blue.  He had been gasping for air for too long.  It was time.  It was a good day………. to die.

bluegums

And it truly was time.  We arrived at the vet.  It was a peaceful and quiet room.  We sat together.  Then he was taken to get prepped for his moment… to be brought back to out quiet room… but when the injection site was prepared, Tank collapsed.  He could not stand another moment… He had given me his all for his final week.

And so as he lay on the table, I carressed and held him.  I whispered in his ear.  I told him I loved him.  I knew he was moments from being  with Michelle, the woman who rescued him, the woman who married me and died way too young in 2009.  And then Tank was

Breathless.

breathless

Numbered

My days are numbered.

Your days are numbered.

A man’s days are numbered. You, God,  know the number of his months. He cannot live longer than the time You have set. So now look away from him that he may rest, until he has lived the time set for him like a man paid to work.  Job 14:5-6

When my wife died, it was a surprise.  I left our house one morning in November, 2009. Michelle was a vibrant 44 year old woman.  By the time I got home after work, she was gone. Drowned in the bathtub of our house. . . passed out in the tub, drifted below the water, and slept.  There was no countdown, no expectation of  departure.  I had not ever considered a number.

Two years ago, Mom was a completely different story.  After 90 plus years the clock just ran down.  No rewinding.  No surprise.  The departure was quiet and graceful, much like she lived her life.  She did not know the exact number, nor did I, but it came and went without incident.

But you Joanna (only you know who your are by this name), you are an anomaly.  I don’t know your number.  I do know it is smaller than I wish it were.   I know is it a very real and tangible number.  I know if I don’t see you soon, my next glimpse of you will be on the other side of the curtain.  And so I must honor the number and I will tell you what I would share with the world if ever asked to write your Eulogy.  Since you have not passed… I hope you find this an encouragement.  In the weird and wonderful way you understand the things I say.  God knows I appreciate that quality in you.

If there were a service, this is what I would rise to say… and since you would be ashes, you would not be able to stop me.  I confess my biggest challenge is deciding which tense to pen this someday Eulogy in…. but to the one I love… you will know what I mean.

I am here to honor my friend Joanna B.    meandjb

I love this woman.  She was never easy to get to know.  In fact she was downright secretive and initially reclusive.  And frankly, a pain in my rather over sized ass.  But I knew from our first Facebook moment, this was a very special woman, one with whom I had a rare and explainable connection.

Our first 3 meetings, were never shows… a rooftop brunch, a day at the dog park, and brunch again.  Our relationship spanned nearly 2 years of “friending” and and “unfriending” on Facebook.  Yet through all of these non-times, there was humor, and insight, and laughter and tears.  Joanna you are a remarkable woman.

Eventually we would have our face to face times together.  I so enjoyed being with you.  You are a smile maker.  Thank you.

Joanna you loved stuff that I loved.  You didn’t love stuff that I loved.  You are specific, and directed, and focused, and I am really not any of those things.  Yet you enjoyed our time together, as did I.  And you are caring.  Oh my, you are so caring.  I knew it when we first met.  And I knew very early that you cared about me.

But I believe, it was with the birth of your first grandchild that you once again became the woman you were meant to be.  You are love and kindness manifested.  You became the woman that God intended for you to become.  You and Boo.  That little man was the right man for your life.  I am so grateful that I caught a glimpse of you as that beautiful woman, before your number was called.  Though I must brag and say I knew that quality and that woman by day two of our facebook lives.  Long before you were ready to own it.

JB, you are a delight.  I will miss you much.  We shared together the sudden and ugly loss of our spouses through terrible and unforeseen accidents.  You are a loving mother and grandmother and friend.  And you have left a mark on my heart.  I am thankful, and honestly I am really upset that I will have to miss you.  But I will learn to deal with it.  I will see you again.  You will have my number.