Sunday, March 29, 1997
We took Buffy along to
the Easter dinner at Mother & Clydes'. She had not
been doing very well at all and it is difficult for her
to have me gone. Besides - I wanted her with us - and
mother is really fond of her herself! Today she even fed
her some of all of our turkey dinner - and on a good
plate too! *Smile* It is good to see my mother able to
love this new way that age had brought about! Of course,
Buffy is SOOooooo lovable - who can resist loving her
It was a nice holiday
together as a family. Buffy seemed restless and needed to
be held a lot. I love her cuddliness though.... so I
didn't mind. I don't think she is feeling good.... I keep
thinking that our time is so short......... I doubt that
she will be with us through the winter. I was surprised
that she made it through the last one.... so you never
know. As long as she isn't suffering.
Buffys' night was
laborious. Her breathing was still very fast. I awoke all
through the night - each time half fearing... half
hoping.... that she had slipped into the permanent rest
which by now was obviously the only way this would/could
end. The Lasix injection she received yesterday had no
effect at all on her kidney function or fluids.... I knew
that her systems were now shutting down in preparation
for ending their functions altogether. She raised herself
up several times to pant for the oxygen which her shallow
breathing was not supplying her. I have experienced
inadequacy of oxygen - it is a terrible feeling - and
exhausting condition even short term - and this actually
began Saturday night or Sunday for her! On Sunday, she
was still walking, but was noticeably unsteady. Monday,
she could barely stand - in fact - the only time she did
so was when I set her outside to toilet. She did not want
to eat Friday night, Sunday morning or evening - and I
could not entice any appetite at all Monday - though I
held the food to her on my finger. Not even a bit of her
most beloved of foods - chicken!
I kept her with me,
often right in my arms, all Monday (yesterday).
Much of the time we were downstairs reclaiming occupancy
of our family room in time for the gathering for memorial
of our Eric.... She just lay wherever I put her - mostly
on her side. She vomited once what clearly looked like
plain bile. I cleaned her up and it did not reoccur. I
had her in my small gold chair at the corner of Erics'
wall... laying upon a soft pillow for comfort. She seemed
cold, so I lay her by the stove after they had the
carburetor replaced in it and it was operating again.
That was good for her - for she stopped the trembling and
slept well. As soon as the repairmen left, I took her to
Bruce (vet). He examined her closely. He took x-rays
which showed her heart was nearly filling her chest! It
also showed us that she had collapsed vertebrae (2) in
her spine - and several that were sublaxated and had
grown calcium bridges across them... and these areas were
probably a source of chronic discomfort. Also - this is
probably why I had to lift her in and out of the door -
and sometimes even out to the grass itself. In fact - the
last few days I had to carry her out to the lawn, for
when I put her out she would stand on the porch right
where I put her.... even though she had gone to the door
and barked to go out when she had need. Oh..... she was
such a really good ~little girl~....... So courageous and
enduring of circumstances...... We, too, were soulmates
in our relationship and much of our experiences of
painful and disabling physical conditions..... So bonded
were we, that the moment I left a room - she would be
aware of my absence and go immediately to my closet and
sleep on my dirty clothes or shoes - whatever had my
scent there for her to feel close to me..... Her need
became stronger over the last years.... and that was a
source of discomfort for us both! I hated leaving her for
long at a time. How glad I am the I have been home for a
month now - and know that she was not alone! She slept so
very much all the time (heart situation).... and we
didn't actually interact much in activities more than
toilet outings and meals..... and just being in close
proximity. But I found her presence as necessary and
comforting as she found mine......
Bruce gave her two shots
and some pills to settle her intestinal situation (since
we did not know why she had vomited).... She only drank
small amounts of water at a time - it almost seemed too
much of an effort to lap it up...so I kept a bowl with us
and offered it to her often. Sometimes, when her tongue
seemed dry, I would dip my fingers into the water and let
the droplets moisten her mouth... She had no interest in
eating or anything - in fact, she seemed sort of
semi-conscious now, most of the time. When holding her,
she was very limp and lay heavily in my arms as a
bean-bag toy would.... If I lifted her leg - it too was
absolutely limp and seemed unreflexive when I let go,
falling straight down.. Knowledge began to form in my
mind that she would not be rallying back from this....
that she was leaving me (though as always, valiantly
hanging on and carrying-on no matter how difficult it got
for her....). I found myself telling her, both in my
heart and sometimes whispered softly out loud close to
her ear... to go ahead and go - that she didn't have to
struggle for my sake - to stay with me longer.... I knew
as clearly as if she could speak the words - that she was
only staying because our bond was so strong in our
spirits and she knew how much she meant to me.... how I
needed her! And she was trying not to leave me
alone...out of her love for me, and loyal attachment to
our bond to each other....... Life didn't hold much for
her to hang on to for herself! I prayed again and again
that God would take her little spirit and allow her the
rest and freedom she needed now.... and then..... I
realized that I was asking Him to do what He had given me
the sovereign power to do myself... when He appointed us
guardians over the animals...... I was asking Him to be
merciful when it was in my own power to do that
myself..... And I knew that I had to summon up the
courage to do so.... The timing was so very hard for me!
I was already dealing with the April 1st anniversary of
Erics' death a year ago......
I carried Buffy most
everywhere I went.
Monday night, (actually, Tuesday mornings' earliest hours
of 2 a.m.) I gave her a very warm and soothing bath in the bathroom
she always loved the pampering of that luxurious Spa-like
experience. I felt that she must feel so strained and exhausted from
the rapid breathings... my sides ached just empathizing
with her! I knew that the warm water would offer some comfort and
temporary ease..... She had always liked being all clean
and fluffy from the
toweling /drying/massage which followed. You could always tell that she felt beautiful after her
bath and drying -
like a little girl all dressed up for a special occasion. It was the last time I would be able to give her that
luxuriant pleasure. I prepared and carried out our familiar ritual with the
utmost tenderness and love.... knowing it was to be the
last time. I gently, lingeringly, bathed her.... my caresses mingling with tears which fell as I did so.
I took my shower too and
then we snuggled up as usual in our bed for our last
night together. Without consciously telling myself - I
knew it was the ~What-is~ of this night ... the last one
of our life-relationship together.
I had such mixed feelings... who would not?
Part of me was so grateful for the actual
which allowed me to spend the last of our time together
with such complete devotion and outpouring of my love for
her/ to her.
In my heart - I was hoping that she would just go quietly
in her time of sleeping.... No last gasping for air
(which actually, was her condition of each breath already
at this point) or any sort of pain, fear or discomfort in
the transition....... That was my hope. But morning found
her still breathing that fast, difficult way. She raised
herself up sometimes, (shoulders only), to pant very hard
as though at the end of a run or play session.... but her tongue was so dark - near purple/blue-black from
lack of oxygen! Then it would lighten up a little and she would drop back
down on her side and sleep (or slip into unconsciousness)
again. When I touched or lifted her, or leaned close to
speak to her... she would respond with that slight little
wag of her tail (which was all she could manage....)
and with great difficulty, at that... but she did it for
I called Dr. Costin at
allowing him to hear her breathing by phone..... and we
both knew it was time. I agreed to bring her in. I called Roger and asked that
he drive us so that I could continue holding her in the
position which seemed best, (most comfortable for her), close against the softness of
cradled in just the right position, with her weight
supported against me, to allow her breathing to be as easy and productive as
possible.... I had seen the x-rays though - and I knew that her
greatly enlarged heart
left little space in her chest/lungs for any breath at
all. She stayed snuggled and seemed to impart to me such a
strong sense of
in the arms that held her~
and a calmness in her assurance
that she was, she knew, in the best of care in all the
world..... in my loving arms and hands which cradled her against my breast in which my own aching heart seemed as labored as hers.....
The mechanics of it all
were not perfectly smooth.
Although Bruce tried to kneel down and do it while I
(for my legs could barely hold me up).... he could not
manage it -
she was a tiny little being.... So I stood with her, at
the examination counter.... but still holding her against
me...... She winced twice and made a weak little snap as
he was finding her vein... Then immediately pressed
herself back against the security of my embrace once the
needle was in place.
He injected the liquid mercy very slowly.
I held her close,
watching her dear little face as she slept.
It was a gentle, quiet passage. No wincing or stress of
any kind at all.... Between one little breath and the
next - came the immediate ceasing of that long labor of
breathing..... and for me, came as a sense of relief and
peace that she did not have to continue that torturous
and pointless experience of continuing until she could
not any longer. It was so easy this way.... It felt right, and I was glad I had made the choice and
carried it out.....
As he was about to inject her - I touched my lips to the
fluffy softness of her little ear, praying that she could
hear me and know... and spoke softly to her "You go
on ahead now Buffy... Eric is waiting, you go and be with
him until I come too...." I had prayed and asked God
to receive her spirit before then....
They had called Dr.
Street for us -
(New Market vet) and he agreed to cremate her at once for
We paid the bill and left for that 40 mile drive to take
her there. She was still warm when I gave her to the
technician who took her to the last service she would
require....... The woman was going to unwrap her from her
blanket, (Erics' old beloved crib quilt which she had inherited
and I had
her wrapped in against the wind which we had ventured out
into this morning....)
But I told her to leave her in it. I thought that it
to allow it to be incinerated too - and mixed with the
ashes that would be returned to the earth at Freesoul....
For I had taken it from the cedar-chest
and given it to her last year when I removed the stuff of
(which I had placed in storage there to pass on to his
children..... ) I'd given the rest of the saved items to Jeanne for Mr.
Bee (Erics' namesake)..... with the exception of a very
few little things for my own connection of memories -
(and at that time, the blanket seemed so appropriate for
Buffy to use on my bed..... beloved of Eric, then Buffy!)
As we left Seven Bends -
my very favorite ENYA song was playing, (Evacuee) -
It had long been a favorite of mine for years, because it
of how I felt each time Eric would leave for college
after a holiday
or visit home....these are the words....
Each time on my leaving
I've run back to my mothers' arms,
one last hold and then it's over.
Watching me you know I cry,
you wave a kiss to say good-bye.
Feel the sky fall down upon me!
All that I am, a child with promises.
All I have are miles full of promises of home.
If only I could stay
My train moves on, you're gone from view.
Now I must wait until it's over.
Days will pass, your words to me,
it seems so long, Eternity,
but I must wait until it's over....
It is so haunting in
melody AND in words...
and even more so since Erics' death..... and here it
playing when I parted with Buffy too! I touched the
repeat button just once - and for some reason, it played
all the way to DR Streets'! I will always think of my loss of Eric and Buffy when
hearing that song!
And now I can only fall
back upon thankfulness for all those years we had
together. She was always my precious special angel - a
very loving, comforting source of companionship and
joy...... How empty my life without them both!
When I got home I came
straight to bed.....
and lay across it to cry some more - needing to be alone. I fell asleep off and on over the next few hours. I would
and hope for a moment... that it was all a bad dream....
it was not and sleep again to escape a while longer, the
pain of it all....
The wind finally calmed
down enough for us to set out on our little memorial
~Pilgrimage~ together. Cathy was already there when we
arrived. She had cleaned up the area nicely and laid a
thick sleeping bag out upon the rock!
How sweet and thoughtful of her!
On the path of the way
out to the rock, I stepped high up onto a rock and slipped right out of my shoes (open sandal-Birkenstocks).... I was wearing leotards instead of nylons - and they are
very slippery!... The backward fall threw me against a huge rock on the
opposite side of the path and wedged me between the two
with my feet up in the air - sort of folded up.... I was
so surprised that I didn't even cry out! I was tempted to laugh (for it seemed like something Tim Conway would do on
the Carol Burnett Show!!!!) But it hurt. Somehow though -
the physical pain didn't seem to matter -
for my heart was aching beyond anything physical!!! I was able to get up when they noticed me and gave me a hand..... Just writing
about it brings an *emotionally-exhausted-sort-of-*giggle* as I remember the
I even went on to climb Freesoul itself (as if anything
on this earth could stop me!) and sit there for quite a
long time..... The music was so nice! It was the first time we had really had good sound up
there. I know that if
Eric were there with us - he would have been very
What a mystery is this
thing called death..... and life everlasting...
and Biblical references which speak of the heavenly
observations of earthly activities and mortal people...
What a wondrous joy it would be
for ME to see THEM....
I think, whole and free of infirmity and/or pain or
needs.... To see Buffy as she once was - so exuberant and
playful! How she loved her little surprises! The new toys we would
buy and take such delight in watching her open them and
run off with the extracted prize! The Tacos from TACO JOHNS' at the mall in Harrisonburg, years ago!
Her favorite cheeseburger toy....
or the shoe which Eric had bought for her with his own
when he was Brandis' age. It was one of her first
or the green Froggi or those silly ducks that we kept replacing each time one
~bit the dust~!
So long, it had been, since she could run and play like
But as I sat there... I remembered... yes... I well
I will always remember.....
And the warmth of her curled against me so comfortingly!
With Buffy beside me, I did not feel entirely alone
in the vastness of the bed which I occupy without a
mate.... Now though.... I feel such loss of her that even the
loneliness doesn't bother me.... only her absence! In all
of our life together, Buffy slept by my side
more nights than my husband ever did in 21 years of
Ahhhh... and Eric, my Eric...
to be free of the painful limitations of that bad leg and
No thick glasses... no squinting...
To see him seeing all things clearly at last -
Eric who always saw more than anyone I know....
acuity or no....
Eric saw and took notice of what he saw with depth and
of mental vision I have seldom seen equaled! and now...
Now he sees ALL things and knows all things....
What a wondrous thing that would be for me to see!
April 2, 1997
Went today to pick up
When we arrived, there was the small brown cardboard box
sitting on top of
her blanket ! At first I was upset, for I had asked that
they leave her in it
when cremating her. But as I took them both - and the
familiar sight and feel
of it brought a comfort to me - I accepted it without
comment. Tonight, I am grateful that it is still with me - for it
belonged to both of them - and it is a physical link
which I am holding close to me here in bed.... and I find that it helps - especially since I have
wrapped Buffys' remains
inside of it until we will take her to Freesoul on
Saturday. She and I slept together with Erics' remains
these same nights last year.... Tonight there is only me..............
April 5, 1997
We took Buffys' remains
to Freesoul today.
Oddly enough, it was also the exact date that we took
Erics' ashes there, exactly one year ago, to disperse
them. This was the first day that we could without having
to take another day off of work.
Both died on the same date, both dispersed on the same
My two angels
It was so
hard to leave Buffy there!
She always wanted to be so near to me - Always! And it
felt a bit like abandonment..... I had to wrestle against
holding on to the comfort of her remains being with me in
so tangible a form that I could hold and feel
against me physically.... But - she came from the earth -
and her spirit, I feel, came from God Himself - and
returned there - and so should her ashes return to the
earth and be a part of the ongoing cycle of life and
growth... assimilated even as Eric and I and the rest of us all
shall be.... together....
As I sat there on the rock - I longed for the peace that
will come when it is my turn to be taken and given.... It
seemed that I could see a long road filled with so much
suffering and struggle here - while there in that place - it was serene and free of all
What a beautiful mystery of life it is
to change from one form of combined elements and then
into another -
and in that place - some of those elements of each of us
combine and remain together as long as the earth remains!
materials © Nina Roberta Baker 1997