I have always had a rough time reintegrating into life after a hospital stay. It is difficult on so many levels. Walking out that door into the fresh air, all I could think of was getting in the truck and headed home. But not in a happy “oh i’m off to see the wizard” sort of way, it was more of an instinctual drive. To return to life, and to walk away from the immense brick complex. I often find the drive difficult, mainly due to the shift in pace, and the bizillion different stimuli coming at me from all directions. The speed of the cars, the sunlight, the sounds. None of these things exist in the carpeted cocoon I just crawled out of. Sure there were disruptions, and outbursts, but on the whole it was actually extremely quiet. Here in the truck hurling along 287, it was disconcerting. Eyeing the distance between cars, my brain fighting the instinct to worry. It is an extremely surreal experience, taking many miles to finally where off. I turned on my cell to find 20 texts, life knocking while I was not listening. My phone had not been on 5 minutes and it started ringing. I let it go to voicemail, while gripping the armrest and eyeing just how close we were to the car in front of us. I set to deleting texts and catching up. Same caller, phone started up again. fuck it, have to climb back on the horse at some point. I spoke with her about a horse situation at a rescue near us. This quickly became a conference call with a horse advocate from California. I spent a good 40 minutes fielding questions and listening to her concerns. In the meantime my partner stopped for some food. I continued on the call and ate while we headed north. There wasn’t much time to think and eat, and completely come to terms with going home. The rescue world is filled with endless problems, this call was just one of many like it I have dealt with. I promised to follow-up, and hung up. We were 15 minutes from home. wow, that distance really flew by. (just a note, i do not recommend eating pizza after spending a week barely eating. not fun) We made it home. I felt no joy in pulling into the driveway, though that may well have been influenced by my calculating just how fast I could make it to a bathroom. However, my mom’s car was in the driveway. oh joy. not what I needed to deal with that very moment. So, getting out of the truck I notice my mother is a mess. Not just a bit tearful, she was well beyond the ability to speak. I know her well enough, that she wasn’t crying because of me. She said something about our old dog. I knew he was deteriorating. I have known for a while now that the time was coming closer when we will need to say goodbye. What I did not know is that he has just come apart in this past week. My mother has always had a soft spot for him, and tends to get very upset if something is wrong with him. Today she was just beside herself. I gave her a hug and told her I knew and that we were going to the vet. D started crying, my mother is hysterical, so it isn’t all that out of the question that I was pretty close behind. I walked toward the house dreading what I was walking toward. It should have been a happy moment, returning to my home and all the animals. The moment I lay eyes on the poor old fella my heart just sank. If an animal can lose 20lbs in a week, I think he did. He was struggling to come to me and say hello. He knew I was home, but he couldn’t quite manage. It was just heart wrenching. He has been in our life for about 14 years. Such a long time. So much has happened in those years, both good and bad. He is a dog that was a once in a lifetime. Old and wise beyond his years right from the moment we met him at 12 weeks old. A proud and intelligent dog. Willing to spend his time with us, rather than gallivanting around like most puppies. He never ran off, or destroyed shoes. He was content to be, never needing all that crazy puppiness that drives us nuts. I have never in my life met a dog like him. Probably will never meet another. It is as if he has always known his place in the world. Completely confident, yet never a cocky defiant dog. Just a wonderful blend of confidence and intelligence. They don’t often come like that.
I could not even bring myself to look at him. I stood holding tight to the kitchen island like my life depended on it. Every last ounce of energy just left. It wasn’t the old dog I was turning my back on. It was coming home. I love him dearly, and cannot even stomach seeing him like that. Yet, it felt so much more than that. I was hoping walking in the door would feel ok. Not dreadful and sad. I guess it has a lot to do with the loss looking us in the eye. Not just our beloved dog, but this farm. I know grief and sadness. I have lost more animals than I can count. The depth of the pain I was feeling in that moment, and continue to feel now is not just about losing our old fella. I rarely allow myself time to feel like I have over the past hours. I guess I just don’t have it in me to turn it off, or even get numb. Instead, I sit here lost in a violent sea of sadness. This is not what I wanted. Not to feel so sick, nor to feel so sad. All I wanted was to ease slowly back into home. Try to make it a slow re-entry, instead I had a headlong crash into everything wrong here. Eventually I will become too exhausted, and these feelings will diminish. It is just hellish riding it out.