Our bear passed on…

21 Mar

10:58 am

On Saturday, March 17th, our “son” (beagle mix, almost 10 years old) passed on to the next realm, or whatever you believe exists after our brain turns off and we take our last breath.  We were beside him on the bed as the house-call vet (who happened to have gone to vet school in the islands, which was actually quite comforting–we just moved here, and it still feels quite foreign) stabbed some “feel good” drugs into his heaving frame, and then followed that with barbiturate.  I have had people and pets die, of course, but I have never been in the room as the creature took its last breath.

I almost took my last breath as, a moment later, our dog stopped breathing and his eyes went glassy and still.  It was heart-wrenching, and it was seared into my brain.

As I’ve written, he was such an intimate part of my island life, and was everything to me for the 6 years that I knew him:  coworker (I work from home), confidant, best friend, higher power.  Once, when I was still drinking and had just arrived on island to visit the man who is now my fiance, I drank and blacked out and yelled; and our boy was so scared he hid outside under the truck.  That was before I knew what a gentle, sweet soul he was, apt to cower at even the slightest expression of frustration, the smallest rise in voice.  I vowed never again to scare him like that, and it was that memory, along with so many nights of love, comfort, and simply his presence that kept me from uncorking a bottle of red wine.

As my mind, however, begins to do what I could not imagine a few days ago–accept the unacceptable, normalize the horrific, move on from death–all I’m left with is a sense of awe and anger:  the mind is an amazing, if not entirely effed up, place.  Haha.

As we moved through the first hours without our little man, I couldn’t help but recognize in my actions the similarities between coping with death and dealing with a hangover!  I spent the day clinging to “micro-goals,” like, breathing, like thinking about my next breath without having a panic attack; putting some food down my throat; paying my bill; rearranging the pillows on the couch; forcing a smile just to know that my face was still there.

And I gasped when I suddenly realized that EVERY one of my hangovers was a small death–a little death, but a death all the same.  And, of all the horrific events of the last few days, that realization was kind of the most horrifying–that we, as alcoholics, put ourselves through a death every single day, for months, years, decades.  How cruel are we to ourselves!  Our bodies, minds, and souls deserve so much more; we deserve to be sober, we deserve to live.

I have wanted to smoke a cigarette the past few days, when my heart has felt so tight I could barely think; but not drink.  I can’t imagine going through this trauma and being drunk or hungover.  I still think about my old drinking buddies, some of whom are still using booze to coat, soothe, forget; and I wonder, how is it that I got here, that I GET to be free, to actually live through this pain alcohol-free–such that I can, again, transform it to something else, something positive, something light?

It was interesting to watch our other dog sniff at death and then immediately move away; it was saddening but also interesting to watch myself caress my boy’s corpse right after he stopped breathing, check his eyes (I was like, Is he definitely gone?) a couple times, and then…move away.  We instinctively move away from death.  Likewise, eventually, we instinctively move away from drinking alcoholically; drinking alcoholically is death, and we move away from it to life, to light, to clarity, to actually processing our reality.

I miss him, but I know I have to be grateful for all the life he gave me, the love he allowed me to see in myself, the thing that we conjured together by loving each other–that lives on, I have a strong sense.  And for that I am grateful.

6 Responses to “Our bear passed on…”

  1. ainsobriety March 21, 2018 at 3:11 pm #

    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Hug and love
    Anne

  2. freefallingintoasoberlife March 21, 2018 at 4:24 pm #

    I am so sorry for your loss! And the pain that goes with that loss. Pets are so special! While there’s is the sadness of loss in this post, there’s also a beauty to it. Your insight about and comparison of hangovers being a type of death is so right on. I’ve also found that death is a reaffirmation of life. Pets just give us so much- through his death you received this lesson!
    May his memory be a blessing💜

  3. Just Some Woman March 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm #

    I’m so sorry for your loss. My black cat that I’ve had for 16 or 17 years, and sleep with every night, has renal failure so I’m facing the same thing…time frame unknown. She’s not suffering yet, but I’ll do what I have to do when the time comes. I can’t imagine doing any of this drunk or hung over. I would probably just go into denial and pretend it wasn’t happening. Like life in general! Loss is awful, but at least we can process it without getting roaring drunk. Again, my condolences.

  4. carrieonsober March 22, 2018 at 6:27 pm #

    Hugs for you at this sad time.
    Here’s to your faithful friend who was there when you needed him most. Unconditional love like that gets under your skin and never really leaves you. It makes you the person you are today.
    You were lucky to have had each other.
    Lots of love
    Carrie x

  5. Lisa Neumann March 23, 2018 at 1:25 pm #

    DDG, Sending big love. The day we put down Rex, our lab, was markedly one of the toughest days of my life. Dec 28, 2009. I was five years sober. I have vivid images of those last breaths as we held him on the vet’s floor. I barely made the car drive home without crashing. I was held up three days in my room. Memories. They are good now, love feels good. Loss feels good, but only after time has graced it. It was (is) so amazing the pain we can endure sober. I never knew how strong I was until I looked back on holding that pain.

    I just love you so much and I don’t even know your name, however, I feel we have journeyed together. And yes, sending big puppy love. L.♥

  6. StephenD March 31, 2018 at 1:42 pm #

    Lots of love.
    Setting the little deaths of our drinking and hangovers beside the friend lost to you. Amazing perspective to think on.
    Lost a dog years ago, he went quiet, I went screaming inside. Now I scream inside if I drink and through the hangover. Little deaths I can avoid.
    Remember it’s not loss if we don’t love.
    Keep loving.

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