I read, with sadness and empathy, the stories of the people or their companions that I have befriended here as they journey through terminal illness. I am privileged to share in their passage, however painful, and to support them as best I can. Yet, I have not been able to write about my own journey with my beloved Bella.
Maybe it is because I am a private person. Or perhaps it is because I’m told that my happiest stories help to lift others’ spirits. God knows that we could all use a little of that. More likely, it is because – by writing about it – it would become all too real.
My Bella had cancer. Inoperable, and, despite all efforts, incurable.
My only requirement through treatments: that she be happy, no matter how unhappy I was for her.
And when she stopped being happy – of just being Bella – then it was time.
Today, it was time. After a long and difficult night, she looked at me and said “no more drugs, no more doctors, no more.” And my heart is breaking – for her, and her “brother” Jackson who will be lost without her.
Nine is too young. She got robbed. But still, nine was rich, and full, and wonderful.
My first rescue dog from Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue – a Golden puppy. A rarity in rescue.
And while an adult dog comes with so many blessings, there is nothing like the bond created through potty training, sleepless nights, and half eaten walls – something she never quite grew out of.
Always in trouble from the start, she was smart and willful.
She did everything with complete abandon,
whether it was catching a ball or guarding the backyard from marauding squirrels. So it should be no surprise that her tumor would first appear as a Grade 3.
As a puppy, she was always busy. She could never settle at night. So I would curl up with her on the dog bed and whisper quietly to her while gently stroking her leg and paw until she fell asleep; a ritual that still works – even today.
I left my job a month after her diagnosis. Not because of it, but maybe because I was meant to have this time with her. Without it, her day would have come much sooner. So many appointments and medications and special instructions. I could never have managed it with work. It bought us some time to prepare, accept, and appreciate all the more.
My summer with sweet Bella was a precious gift of time and love. And today – of departure.
Fly free sweet girl. And say hello to Pookie, Bear, Tribble and Valentino.
You are so loved.