Before we had children, we adopted a dog.
I'll be honest, I have a huge animal empathy trigger, but I'm not necessarily an animal person. I grew up with cats, who are relative low maintenance. I never felt drawn to have a house full of pets. Although I love animals and happily spend time with other people's dogs.
My husband grew up with dogs, so he was drawn to having one of his own when the time was right.
It all happened kind of quickly. We bought a house, and then a month after moving in we went to look at a shelter and came home with a 4 or 5 year old shih tzu we named Khadijah.
She is sweet, easy, gentle, and fits in our lives so seamlessly. She has been on balance very low maintenance and very much a part of our family.
She's older now, 10 or 11, and we are faced with a health challenge.
It is stressful, hugely anxiety inducing and in many ways all consuming.
I'm not handling it all that well. As I told our vet, I'm ready to go back to a baseline normal anxiety.
To help create some balance, I'm processing. It is a coping strategy for me. And I believe a hugely important part of managing grief and anxiety.
I'm talking with Matt, my friends, and people going through similar battles. I am being really honest with my feelings. I'm putting it all out there and letting myself feel.
But it is overwhelming and I want to run away.
I know I can't, that I took on this responsibility and I have to face it head on.
I knew one day Khadijah would die. I know that death is a part of life, and that pets die sooner than most would wish, the tragedy to the joy of owning them.
But I didn't know it would be fraught with medical decisions, with having to see her not herself, with a lot of time in purgatory waiting for information on which to make decisions. Time where magical thinking takes over and hope, the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity (Robert Ingersall), would come in to play and for lack of a better way to say it- fuck me up.
So, I'm processing. It is what I'm doing to stay balanced. It is tricky and I mostly feel out of balance. So I'm talking about that. And being honest about it. And waiting. And giving Dij all the love while we wait, so she continues to know each day how very loved she is.