Instead, what happened was that the bus pulled up from one direction 10 minutes late, my husband was turning into my driveway from the other, and the vet's van was behind the damn bus all at once. My son figured it out once he saw the cars and came tearing down the driveway already in tears. My daughter was a bit slower on the uptake, but once she walked in and we said we were putting Cosmo to sleep, she ran sobbing up the stairs to her room. Basically, my kids ended up in an unintentional ambush. I think I win the crappy mother of the year award for this one.
The vet was kind once they saw what was going on, and gave us an extra 15 minutes alone so the kids could say goodbye. Cosmo perked up, wagged his tail, went from person to person, but kept coming back to me which surprised me a bit. I think, in the end, it's because I'm here. Because I work at home, I spend more time with the pets than any other person in the house. They might prefer one person or another, but I'm their biggest constant. All the tears and high emotions, I think Cosmo kept turning back to me because of that, because I was his normal.
We all said goodbye, and my husband took him out to the vet's van (rather than do it inside in front of the Christmas tree. At least I made one right decision when put on the spot.) I didn't go with him. My husband reported back that Cosmo might have had all that energy for his family, but in the van he didn't even have the energy to stand up or deal with the vet. He just laid down, too tired.
It was time. I know that. Maybe he did too.
My son was inconsolable for a while, but my daughter stepped up to the plate surprisingly well and comforted him. While we were outside, he cried himself to sleep.
One of the things about living in the country that's so different from suburbia is that people bury their own pets here. Growing up, my parents had pets cremated and we spread the ashes. If it was a tiny thing like hamster, we did bury it in a shoebox (and if it was a fish, it was the "So long, Sailor!" toilet send off.) But burying a cat or dog in your own yard? Never happened.
There is something so awful about digging a hole in your yard to bury a friend. My husband and I worked in the setting light with the icy wind howling around us, digging the hole for Cosmo's body just a yard or so away from where we buried Max just last year. But while digging the hole was bad, putting Cosmo's body into it was worse. It was so horrible to fill back in that hole. The sun had well and truly set by the time we finished, and our fingers and faces were frozen.
I just wanted to pull Cosmo back out of that hole. Death is so damn wrong. It just is. I get that it's the natural cycle, and that Cosmo was sick and suffering. He probably felt like he was drowning with every breath since his lungs were so full of fluid. It was probably a relief to finally sleep, finally rest, without gasping, without struggling. Maybe he was even fearful because breathing was so hard. Even though he only lived HALF his expected lifespan, I get it. I'm the one that pushed and said that it was time - no one else did that. I get it.
But I can still feel the baby-soft fur on his head beneath my fingers not even 24 hours ago, and it hurts. It's those little details like the fur on his head, wagging tail, big soulful brown eyes, or the final sprinkling in of the dirt on top of his body with his little bright red sweater still on him and shining through those first clumps that hurt the most. That, and for some reason I always think of everything I ever did wrong, that I should have done better.
My hope is that things will start feeling better. That the family will start doing better. My hope is that this is our low point, because honestly this has been a really rough year. The truth is that we've been on a Death-watch with Cosmo since he had his leg amputated in January because of the cancer. They said he'd only live about three months, but he showed them. We had a lovely, NORMAL and healthy summer. It was only in the autumn that things began to turn swiftly downward. We had more than we thought we would, but even so there was always that looming specter of what was to come. It's come and gone now, so perhaps that will ease... something.
I'm sitting here this morning with my paints. I have work. I have commissions that need to get done. But I realize that I miss him. A lot. I can feel the difference. I can feel that he is gone.
|Cosmo would only play fetch if throwing the ball involved going up and down the stairs. |
Otherwise, he wasn't interested.
|Max and Cosmo, together. They're buried side by side now too.|
(As for the sweaters, it's Vermont. It can get pretty darn chilly, even if you have your own fur coat!)