The shadowy figure of loss, death and departure is something that lingers with every meeting within our lives. Each person, place and thing that I will encounter on this journey will one day leave. The darkness of departure can be a simple spec on the horizon, or it can be an ominous swooping shadow that pulls all light from your life and leaves you in a pit of despair.
That shadow swept into my life on the morning of October 28, 2018, when Oscar, my dog, left his physical form on this earth and moved onto his next adventure. He got sick on Thursday evening, had emergency surgery, was stable enough to be transferred to the emergency veterinary clinic in Edmonton, the drive was nerve-wracking, but with my fiancee and my cat, our family of four turned the vehicle south with Oscar laying down in the back.
He was in a drug-induced haze, not himself. The odd moan would come out of him, he was struggling, and then we reached our destination, the technicians wheeled him into Guardian veterinary centre and began working on him. Saturday would see him improve after a blood transfusion, but then Sunday morning he went into cardiac arrest and would not recover.
It was with my mother and my fiancee that I would say goodbye to his body, I held his paws, scratched his chest, and kissed his head.
In June of 2016, I had the opportunity to attend a Buddhist Conference where Ajahn Brahm, a well-known monk, was speaking. I got to ask him about the euthanasia of pets, and how to reconcile a religion of non-violence with the ending of a life. He merely told me that the decision is not for me to make, it is for the animal to make, so look the animal in the eye and ask them "Are you ready to go?"
On Thursday evening before any surgery, the vet had given me a choice, euthanasia was on the table. So, I asked Oscar, I looked into his eyes and asked if he was ready to go, he looked back at me and looked down, he said he wasn't. We continued with treatment, and over the next two days, while he was in the hospital, I had time to play with the possibility of a life without Oscar, and when he left, it was after two days of talking, thinking, praying, contemplating and tears I was more prepared.
On Thursday night, when I asked Oscar if he was ready, he was, but he knew I wasn't, so he granted me two days, made sure my mom was with me, made sure I had a strong hug from my dad, had long conversation with my sister in Vancouver, the strength from my sister in Edmonton and a smile from my niece. He also gave me and my fiancee time together in the car to listen to Harry Potter hold hands and be with each other. I carry him with me, now and forever.
I love you my boo boo.
If you would like to make a memorial donation we are collecting here, you will be sent a postcard of Oscar pics: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/oscars-memorial-postcards-tickets-51983972461