Our BUFFYs' last days

Exactly one year to the day after Erics ' death,
Buffy left me to join him......


From the pages of my journal

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 anyway?

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.


Tuesday, April 1, 1997

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 sink - 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 knowing-awareness
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 me.

I called Dr. Costin at 8:30 -
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 my breast 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 
trusting 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 sat.... (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 us.
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 seemed fitting
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 Erics' (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 reminded me 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 home
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 with you.
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 was......
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 awaken and hope for a moment... that it was all a bad dream.... then remember 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 scene.
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 pleased.

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!
Chicken nuggets.
Her favorite cheeseburger toy....
or the shoe which Eric had bought for her with his own allowance,
when he was Brandis' age.    It was one of her first favorites!
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 that!
But as I sat there... I remembered... yes... I well remembered!
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 marriage!
Ahhhh... and Eric, my Eric...
to be free of the painful limitations of that bad leg and poor vision...
No thick glasses... no squinting...
To see him seeing all things clearly at last -
Eric who always saw more than anyone I know.... 
Visual acuity or no....
Eric saw and took notice of what he saw with depth and clarity
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!

Wednesday, April 2, 1997

Went today to pick up Buffys' ashes.
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..............

Saturday, 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 date.
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 that.... 
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 will probably combine and remain together as long as the earth remains!   
Sweet, gentle thought......
Amen, then, Amen

Buffys' First Days!
Written materials Nina Roberta Baker 1997

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