May 24, 2018

THE EMPTY SEAT










No one can prepare you. 


As much as you read, as much as others share their personal experiences, as much as the veterinarian explains the steps, the injections, the timing, no one can prepare you for the anguish and witness of euthanasia. 


Morgan Sofia in the care and company of her Corgi sister, Maddie, myself and Cindy, had a calm and peaceful sleep, her last breaths taken around 10:30AM on Friday May 11th.  at home in Jacksonville. Dr. Michele Halverson from Laps of Love was compassionate, caring, professional, she gave us all the time we needed in those moments of exaggerated agony.  Every minute like an hour, everything in slow motion. 


The weeks, the days, the nights, the minutes, every breath up to the time Dr. Halverson came to the house, were uncomfortable, unfamiliar. Every conscious thought of what was to be on that Friday morning made my stomach hurt, the waves of anguish and anxiety, a marching band traversing my chest. The attempts of normalcy, the morning routines, the last visit to the Town Center so Morgan could enjoy a ride her red wagon, the celery treats, the bacon treats, it was surreal.  Cindy and I could barely complete sentences.   



Morgan and Maddie on Friday morning 



No one can prepare you for those last minutes of slumber. Morgan after the first injection, relaxed and went to into a deep very relaxed sleep. She was always a sound sleeper, it was as if she was taking a long deserved nap in Cindy’s arms. Maddie was in the middle of all the activity, she was a bit startled when Morgan started to snore ever so softly. 


Dr. Halverson was gracious, patient. She knew exactly what to say when, for a long period of time we were all without words.  Morgan’s breathing seemed to take over the room. We all chuckled when we noticed a tiny bit of peanut butter on the side of Morgan’s mouth. That morning she had taken her Prednisone and Gabapentin as always with a dollop of peanut butter. 


Maddie surprised us, after Morgan’s heart stopped, she got up in the bed where Morgan was finally resting at peace and she sniffed around Morgan's back legs, taking in some formal notice or signal available only to canines. In that moment it was our hope that Maddie realized that Morgan had passed.   Many have said that Maddie knew way before anyone that Morgan had DM. In the last few months, Maddie made it her everyday role to always be near Morgan. At night she gave up the comfort of her bed, to sleep with Morgan on the cool time floor. The tile floor, one of Morgan’s many favorites.


No one can prepare you for the ride to the crematory. We gently wrapped Morgan in her favorite blanket and took her favorite toy, Cheesey the Yellow Duck and we rode in silence while Siri gave directions.  Maddie went with us and was in the room with Morgan up until we had to place her in the hands of the tech at the crematory.  Morgan's 13 years of life, now significantly different. She seemed much heavier and her body wrestled with gravity.  

There wasn’t enough time to giver her all gentle kisses that I had reserved for these last moments.  And then she was gone.


No one can prepare you for the 6 hour car ride from Atlanta back Jacksonville, the front passenger seat Morgan always occupied, the empty space taking on an exponential dimension; the empty seat at times as big as an Olympic swimming pool. Maddie almost as if in reverence for her sister’s memory, stayed in the back seat in her bed for the first 2 or 3 hours of the drive. After our second stop, she moved to the front passenger seat and looked at me with her kind, sweet, Maddie eyes, saying “Mommie, Morgan will always be with us”.  




Morgan Sofia 



No one can prepare you for the void. The emptiness of her usual spaces are magnified.  As of late because she could not get around without scooting on her back legs, Morgan was always close to the blue water bowl.  She loved to drink water, her slurping gulps became an expected song throughout the day.  I knew her routine, she drank early in the morning, after going out for her nature breaks, around noon, then after her dinner.  At night she drank water around 9pm and then one last visit to the water bowl before midnight.  She loved loved water.  She actually had too much calcium in her system and excessive thirst was one of the side effects.  In anticipation of one day Morgan being gone, I started making videos of Morgan when she was drinking water. I will never forget the sounds of her gusto, of the quench.


Morgan did everything large. She was a beautiful, stubborn, strong willed Corgi that lived large. She was an amazing big sister to Maddie.  She was 13 years and 5 months when she passed. Her back legs were compromised by Degenerative Myelopathy, she was tired. 


I learned so much from Morgan.  And unless you’ve had a dog, their love, their loyalty, their personalities, their focus on everything around them, their capacity to guard and love, their ever present company in your life….. it’s not something that can be explained or described.  I miss her.


Morgan loved life.  She loved eating, she loved her walks, she loved to ride in the front passenger seat of the car, she loved foam from early morning cappuccinos, she loved celery, she loved being a Corgi and being charged with everything going on around her. She loved to fetch her tennis balls and her favorite the Squiggly Wiggly green ball. Morgan loved Maddie and took such great care in being her big sister. Morgan loved her canine friends: Dutch, Cody, Jake, Bruno, Savannah, Wesley, Merlin, & Baxter.  


Cindy and I both wanted Morgan to have dignity in her life and be a dog.  In her last 4 to 6 weeks, she had to be carried out, she could no longer walk on her four legs. She adapted to dragging her back legs, at first she battled, when she fell she would get back up or try.  Towards the end she figured out if she dragged her back legs or scooted along she could move.  She also would fall on her side and wait for me to pick her up. It was so difficult to watch her decline.  She started having visible physical problems last June and based on all the science and documentation of the Degenerative Myleopathy condition, when the progression starts, it’s a matter of time. 


Getting to the place where we actually made the phone call to schedule the euthanasia took three or four weeks.  Knowing the course and timing of DM, for months we prepared ourselves, we considered and battled and hesitated, we had so many discussions about how, when, where.  At her last water treadmill appointment I could sense a shift in Morgan. I looked deep into Morgan’s eyes and I knew her fight was waning.  She was tired of falling, dragging, and not being able to be Morgan.


Today, the anguish leading up to the euthanasia has been replaced by a huge, loud, void. The two Corgi’s that woke up every morning and followed me to the front door are now one.  The two Corgi’s that charged their way to the refrigerator door to get their celery treats are now one. The two Corgi’s that always supervised me in the kitchen are now one.  The two Corgi’s that ate their meals with such excitement, are now one. I can't imagine the void for Maddie. I try as much as I can to reassure her that everything is going to be OK and that Cindy and I will always love her and take great care of her. 


It will take time for Maddie and I to get used to the emptiness.  It will take time for the familiarity of the Morgan and Maddie routines to become new Maddie routines. In my heart there is a giant place for this wonderful girl, Morgan Sofia.  She showed up everyday in her life and loved being an amazing Welsh Corgi. 

Morgan Sofia you will always be in our hearts, always !


Thanks to all who shared love and compassion. Thanks for the phone calls, emails, texts, cards. 

A special thanks to all the medical professionals who took such great care of Morgan Sofia: Dr. Rebecca Sandler with Blue Pearl in Atlanta, Dr. Scott Jacobs with Coastal Vet Hospital in Jacksonville, Dr. Jessie Burgess and Sky with  Veterinary Acupuncture and Wellness, Jacksonville Beach and especially Dr. Michele Halverson with Laps of Love in Jacksonville. 

Morgan Sofia Rest in Peace !