Last week’s vacation started well enough. CL and I went to North Carolina for a few days to visit my parents (and help finish the basement by installing base boards so the carpet could be installed), and then I managed to spend the last part of last week (proper) catching up on a ton of freelance work for friends and clients.
Then Friday came.
It started as well as could be expected, but around 9 PM I started receiving texts that a friend was missing from work and not answering his phone. His boss and I headed over to his place — fortunately, we were slow enough at the bar that I could leave for an hour, since I’m apparently the only person outside of his family that can find his house — where we found him passed out. From, it was no surprise, taking a lot of pills.
I’ll skip further details, to protect the guilty and somewhat stupid. Suffice to say that we — the boss and I — saved his life, and he’s now resting in a hospital nearby.
Maybe that whole thing made me just angry enough to cope with Saturday, though. I awoke to CL’s 24,000 year old dog making yelps of pain that — at least in the Hangover Chamber that was filling in for my skull — didn’t seem to end. 24,000 is, of course, an exagerration; Woody was only 24, as best as we can figure (he was rescued from the side of the road, and according to the vets then, he was between 4 and 6 years old — that was 18 years ago). After checking email, drinking a soda and smoking a cigarette — I may be wrong about the time slots and what filled them, as my brain doesn’t function fully for the first hour or two of being awake — CL decided that maybe it was time to let Woody go, that he was suffering and needed to be put to sleep. She wasn’t comfortable at all with the idea of losing him, much less being responsible for it, so I volunteered to take him to the vet. I promised her too that I would stay with him through the process.
Two things stand out about the next hour: one was how absolutely terrible Woody smelled. I’ve noticed this for the past year, but seriously, I can’t do justice to how bad it had gotten (mostly because I knew better than to get too near him and breathe). Carrying him in to the vet, though, I couldn’t avoid being breathed on.
And I know I’m not spupposed to speak ill of the dead, but really, it’s just fact that when your dog is a zombie, or has been buried in a Pet Semetary, there’s gonna be some stink. Just saying.
But, having never had a pet put to sleep, I wasn’t prepared for what came next. In my past, all animals die horrible, violent deaths, complete with death rattle (it’s a real thing, and something I hope none of you ever has to witness). This, though, was sort of enviable: a simple shot of sedative, that put Woody to sleep, followed by a replaced syringe of something (potassium, my guess) that stopped his heart. No pain, no anguish, just a release from whatever pain was wracking his 106 year old (converted, of course) body.
I remember thinking that by choosing the time and releasing him from suffering, I had somehow beaten God. Which is funny, since I don’t believe in God.
And so I include in my How I Spent My Summer Vacation saving one life and taking responsibility for ending another. Talk about balance.
It’s probably fortunate (and karmic) that CL takes all this so much harder than me. I’m really okay with all of it and more — the universe unfolds as it should. But that line of thought draws funny looks from people who are probably thinking about the progression from killing pets to starting fires to Jeffrey Dahmer, so I can just let CL talk and hide in the background.
And for the record, I’m still freaked out by dead bodies. Once I released that I was still petting Woody (even after his heart had stopped beating), I had a moment of pure panic that somehow got restrained. Not sure how, but also not questioning it.
Just to be on the safe side, anyone who knows me might want to be really careful over the next few days, though. I’m apparently carrying a bit of the anti-Midas touch these days…