Necessary Endings Require Courage

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

My job is walking women through their winter seasons of life. It’s holding their hands through the grief of letting go and gut wrenching endings.

I have not risen up to this calling however, without learning to master my own necessary endings.

Yesterday was one of those days.

I awoke to a normal day - the sun was bright and the temperature was perfect. It was a beautiful fallish day. Carter and I had a cup of coffee and headed out on a crisp morning walk with the dog, Apollo, like we had a hundred times.

We chatted and laughed and played with Apollo as we always did.

On the way home, Apollo stopped to pee about three times. At first, it was cute and funny. Then, it was concerning. There were only a few drops coming out and he kept trying. “Oh great,” I thought. “He must have a UTI.” I immediately scheduled him for a vet appointment and took him in.

Nothing could have prepared me for the events of that day.

I went about my daily affairs happily awaiting the call to come pick up my baby. When the call came, it was not at all what I expected.

My gentle vet’s voice was apologetic. “I know Apollo has always been a very healthy dog and this is such a sudden surprise.”

My heart fell.

“I’ve discussed Apollo’s results with my trusted radiologist and it appears he has a very large malignant cancerous tumor, taking up a significant portion of his abdomen. This tumor has almost entirely cut off Apollo’s bladder and what’s worse is it has gotten so large it is now causing serious internal bleeding.”

I blinked hard. My face felt hot and I thought I might throw up.

“Unfortunately, there are no options that do not involve a lot of pain and suffering. We could refer to oncology, but it would be a stretch to even get him through the bleeding and urinary problems just to start.”

Battling confusion, I stuttered. “I’m trying to understand. I’m trying to understand what this means. How can I keep him comfortable? Even if it’s too late for treatment, how can I be there for him?”

He’s voice was patient as he waited for me to catch up. “That is why I said there are no good options.”

“Oh,” I said. My voice was trembling and full of recognition I did not want to understand. “Oh, you are saying he needs to go NOW.”

The room was spinning now. My body was shaking and heaving uncontrollably.

“I’m afraid if you took him home for the weekend, it would only get worse and he would be in a lot more pain.”