“Nothing gold can stay...” - Robert Frost
Wednesday, October 4th, our beloved 7 year old Boston Terrier, May, died. We rushed her to the emergency vet Sunday in our pajamas, Mattie still in bare feet, because she was suddenly paralyzed, failing, and very evidently near death. The prognosis was not good by the time our vet came to talk to us. We thought she had been poisoned and as such spent the next four days trying to stabilize her and restore her liver.
On Wednesday it was clear there was something else; her blood work showed no improvement . Upon probing further and doing more invasive tests we were devastated to learn she had pancreatic cancer.
We were heartbroken.
I was not prepared to lose May. Neither were my girls and the many people in our lives who truly felt Mayhem was their spirit dog too. Two of my best friends, Denise and Alia sobbed. Denise took care of May when I was traveling and loved her; letting her sleep next to her often. Alia, who is a spiritual person, fell in love with May for her deep soul.
None were more crushed than my girls who had welcomed this pup eight Christmases ago. Santa delivered Moxy and Mayhem on a joy-filled Christmas morning and those two fur babies changed the trajectory of our lives. May was so shy and timid, wanting to be swaddled and sleep. Mox was a fur ball of piss and vinegar and up for the “mayhem” for which our May never lived up to in name.
May was the sweetest, most gentle, soft spirit in a house full of tough cookies. She took up so much space with her softness. I never realized the cavernous hole her quiet spirit would leave before we lost her.
May was a freaking silent soldier.
She comforted everyone with quiet solidarity. She called no attention to her power; I never even realized THAT was what it was until she was gone. She would lie with you for hours if you were sick. Soundlessly curl up beside the bed if you cried. She literally kept step beside me as I paced the halls of my house night and day while the girls were at school or sound asleep for months after Warrior died. I was a ghost she kept tethered to this plane; the dog holding a leash on her “master”. Mayhem mastered goodness in a way I am ashamed to say I don’t think myself capable.
The vet thought she should rest the first day and so when Dr. Sanchez advised I could visit I raced to see her. She did not see me but I could see her, in her hospital kennel, connected to IV fluids we hoped would save her life. The vet tech said her name but her eyes looked dull and lifeless until I said, “Hi May May! I’ve missed you baby girl...”. As god as my witness every cloud vanished from her eyes and she leapt like a puppy to get to me through the bars. When I finally unlatched her crate she was in my arms kissing my face with a love I’ll never compare. I was bathed in dog spit from my ears to my face to my neck and I just cried to think I mattered that much to anyone. I sat holding her and petting her and loving her. She ate for the first time like a queen as I dipped my fingers into the smelly gruel and she’d lap it up.
Everyone at the vet smiled and said this is a different dog; this is a very good sign.
I was confident I’d bring our May baby home.
On Wednesday’s visit, however, I got the news she was not responding and further, invasive probing showed pancreatic cancer. The deterioration of the pancreas is always fatal. It was not a matter of if, it was when. I FaceTimed Indy in California because this was her dog. Santa has delivered May with a pink ribbon just for Indiana to love. I gave indy the definitive, heartbreaking news, and we sat on FaceTime so indy could talk to May and pour that last love into her goodbye. I picked Mattigan up from school and told her the awful news. We went to be with May who was failing when we returned.
We loved on her, wrapped her in her favorite pink blanket from home, and sobbed as she took a final, great big, puppy like yawn before she slipped into parts unknown.
I felt really angry. I literally thought “well, here I am...I’ve finally f’in been flayed, I’m not getting off the floor after this one...”.
My girls cried in ways I won’t describe.
For the first time ever in my life I wanted to quit. I wanted to scream...WHAT THE F MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME.
I said words I despise...”this isn’t fair”.
I got really, really mad.
And then something happened...
... I broke...
...and all theses people who love me cleaned up the pieces and put me back together. They each, in their own way, reminded me of my true self and my name.
There is no quitting as a Warrior and as such I recalled the truth of who I am ... I’m no quitter and that’s certainly not who I’ve raised my warrior girls to be.
I have no choice but to carry on. I wrote my articles for Breast Cancer Awareness Month and #Spirit Day. I did my podcast; an episode I’m truly proud to have charting on iTunes and giving a voice to those who deserve a platform. I got back to the business of life because I can cry at night but I have a job to show up and do everyday!!!
Robert Frost wrote a poem I memorized back when the book The Outsiders was published. It came to mind upon losing our girl, May, far too soon. The line “Nothing gold can stay...” whispered to me as the aspen and cottonwood trees of Santa Fe greeted me bathed in their butterscotch glory. The Fall is my favorite season in my small town. It was one Mayhem savored, bathing in the last drops of a butter yellow sun.
I will miss every hair on that little dog’s being. I’ll miss her eyes, that in Native American lore are associated with a spirit guide. She looked at you with one blue eye “looking to heaven”, and one brown eye “trained on earth”. I will miss the fact she thought we were perfect even though we will never be. I will miss the fact she won’t live to see me trying each day to be the sort of human being worthy of the love she showed me for seven years that crescendoed the day before she left this world.
I believe in the gold standard of her example. I believe I will try to be the woman, in her honor, she believed me to be. I believe we Warrior Girls are forever better people for the love of our fur baby...Always.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.