Sunday, October 10, 2010

how she saved my life

i was in the deepest darkest emotional hole that i had ever seen in my life. i'd known bouts of depression before but this one was by far the worst i had ever seen before or since.
i was working as a counselor at the residence of an Aboriginal High School in Northwest Ontario. that meant that i was a general all-around parent for 14 adolescent Aboriginals for the duration of the school year. the job was pretty cool actually, they paid me to play road hockey and help with homework. the drawbacks were that i had to eat my own cooking and i was 5 hours drive from home for 5 days at a time.
my depression centred around the thought that i felt i was missing my life when i was not around home to enjoy it. it got to the point that i was weepy all the time, with little or no interest in what was going on in my life. eventually i called the boss from home and said ... "i just can't do it. i'm not coming in to work."
that began a 4 month stint of hiding out in my basement trying to make some sense of my life.

into those depths came a 4 legged angel of mercy. Maddie, my dog, saved my life. on occasion we'd go for long walks during the cold of a Winnipeg winter. we'd walk beside a frozen river while she wandered off leash with so much to see and sniff. you could see the excitement in her body as she ran back and forth, never too far to be away from me but far enough that she could sample the world down by the river. at other times we'd drive to the big park in the middle of town and we'd watch her leap into fluffy snowbanks and jump around like a gazelle on the Serengeti. it was joyful to share in her joy and i was honoured that she was sharing her life with me. when we'd get home she'd happily climb into the cuddle chair with me and she'd fall asleep in my lap as i watched tv.
she saved my life by showing me how to live. she showed me joy and allowed me to share in it.

Maddie is sick. she has had a cyst on her stomach for some time now but it has never been problematic. recently the cyst grew to 2 or 3 times it's normal size and it seemed obvious that it isn't the harmless thing that it used to be. she saw a vet last night and we heard the dreaded "C" word. we don't know if indeed this is the end but it could go either direction ... with what looks like it could very well go the wrong direction. Maddie is bleeding from her cyst and it doesn't look like it's improving.
i've wept a lot today. i've held her and i've been thanking her profusely for all that she has meant to me over the last decade.
she saved my life and i'm mourning that i cannot seem to save hers. i love her immensely.
the joys of life have been significant with her around. i want to be alongside her if this our her last walk together.


Lisa said...

oh Ian, I'm sorry... we lost our family dog a little over a year ago, and it was terribly hard to say goodbye...

Al said...

I don't know how much dogs know and understand, but I'll bet she feels your love and support as much as you felt hers.

She did what she could to help you get well, although it still took a lot of your effort to make it happen.

You are doing what you can to help her in her troubles, and ultimately her health is out of your hands.

It's not fair that dogs can be as wonderful as children, but don't live long enough to outlive you. But, like any kind of love, it can be shared deeply. The deeper the love, the more painful the loss.

You are doing the most wonderful thing you can do, you are loving on her.

David Kirk said...

Praying for Maddie and you!

brokensaints said...

I'm dealing with a similar thing - my wonderful doggie has a cancerous tumor. I'll be praying for you and Maddie and just wanted to let you know that I understand what it's like to have a dog basically save your life. And be powerless to save them. Mine was actually literally a gift from God and sounds like yours is too.