When we had to say goodbye to Maggie last December, I couldn’t get myself to come back on the Tripawds site even once, until now. I think in part because I wanted to remember less about the last few months of surgeries, vets, tests, worry, pain, trying so hard for her, and crashed hopes, etc… As I know you all know, THAT can just take over your life and every waking moment, and once it was all over that part of me that struggled so much for her, just needed silence. Even though it still haunts me sometimes, I have no regrets about her amputation because- what else could we have done but to give her a fighting chance?? And in a weird way, I can see a positive in that it brought us much, much closer during her last few months. I got the chance to put her first, spoil her, take off time from work to go to the park just because the sun was shining, spend an hour walking halfway down the block just because she wanted to sniff 4,372 blades of grass – and enjoy watching her do it, and sleep next to her every night.
I think I had to step away from here completely in order to put the cancer/amputation/medical crap aside and let other, more carefree, memories come back. That’s still hard for me, because those last few months were so intense and so focused on Maggie, that those thoughts still sometimes crowd out the others. Pictures help, and I have them all around. I made a calendar with collages of pictures spanning all stages of her life on each month, and I can’t wait to turn the calendar each month so I can see which ones I picked for that month. At first I was viscerally drawn to the pictures of her as a puppy (because they tugged the most at my heart) or the most recent ones post-amputation (well, I guess for the same reason). But the last few times I’ve flipped through the calendar I find myself pausing and smiling at the “random” pictures from all those wonderful in-between years. Those are my celebration and appreciation of her life with us, just the ordinary days.
So why am I back here now? I had no idea. It didn’t even sort of occur to me that Maggie’s first surgery was in early September 2015 (they hoped to remove the whole growth from her leg, but could only take a biopsy because it had invaded tendons). The amputation was on September 21. If it had been a year to the day that I found myself back here, I wouldn’t have been too surprised. And I’m not keeping track of those dates, I had to look back on my calendar to check them. But this week, one year ago, was when I was agonizing over what to do, what was best for her, what we could hope for, and what I feared the most. Well, all of those things played out, and in such a short period of time. I can’t believe that was all just a year ago. But I feel that I must have turned a corner on that “big f-ing cancer mess” stuff that honestly was still tied up in the pit of my stomach until very recently. Maybe until just today. As I was writing this I looked up a couple of pictures and saw one of her post-amp, and all I saw was her sweet eyes and love, without the usual twinge of frustration and panic that I usually feel when I look at her post-amp pictures. Up until now they mostly just brought back all of the stress and intensity of that time. I think that now I can finally see those last few months as just Maggie, just days of waking up and being a dog and wanting to sniff grass and chase squirrels and get belly rubs and sleep next to her people.
So I think that’s why I’m back here this week. Something about processing the whole mess of emotions that I went through with her cancer diagnosis and treatment, and maybe letting go of the stress of that time, finally. The pain of losing her is still so strong, but I think my memories will be more peaceful now. Only a year since all this started, it’s unbelievable. Seems like a good time to dedicate some time to thinking and writing about her again. I love you Maggie. I miss you.
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