Jan 4, 2020

Unconditional Love

It’s 2020.  

We are 4 days into the new year, 4 days I did not expect, 4 days that surprised and overwhelmed me with the sudden passing of my dear, sweet, loving Corgi, Maddie Louise. 

I had planned on writing this new year.  I’ve was working my way towards to the beginning of this month considering all that I could write about, topics I could visit on the page, all to get me back to doing what I love, the expression of written words on the page.  I had planned a series of reflection pieces. I was going to review blog posts for the past years and write about events, experiences, memories, what matters, why, how the events or experiences shaped my life, nothing too serious.  Perhaps an accounting of sorts of the last decade. I’m now in the 60’s club and if you know anything about me, you know I love reflection, thinking, considering. I love details, textures, patterns; the transfer of ideas from my heart and mind to the page.  

Maddie Louise was euthanized the morning of January 2nd, 2020, close to 9:00AM. She experienced 3 collapse or fainting episodes, starting at 6pm on New Year’s eve.  When she had the 3rd collapse, I thought she was going to die right in my arms. Her small 23 lbs. body struggled to summon the strength to recover the rhythm of her normal inhale, exhale.  It took her nearly ten minutes to establish her normal breathing pattern.  I comforted her, held her gently, spoke the most tender loving words that I could summon from my heart.  Her breaths were tiny and shallow for what seemed an eternity. 

Maddie spent 7 hours in an oxygen chamber at an ER vet facility. She had an exam, X-rays, and ECG and medication to ascertain and confirm the gravity of her situation. After consultation with three vets, and certainly after many phone calls with Cindy, we made the decision to euthanize our dear, dear, Maddie Louise.  She was not able to breathe on her own outside of the oxygen chamber.  Even in the chamber her condition declined, her oxygen levels were low, her gums paper white, her eyes glassy, it was a matter of time.  Ana and Parker were with me at the ER clinic. 

It all happened very fast. 

Maddie was diagnosed with bladder cancer in September of last year, her diagnosis was in the very early stages, her tumor was in the best possible place, the apex of her bladder. I researched all that could happen with this diagnosis, the clinical trials, the medications, the progression of the type of cancer she had, the life expectancy, etc.  

I shaped a story in my head and heart that Maddie would be with me for months, the life expectancy with the bladder cancer she had was 6 months to a year. I had shaped a story that Maddie would not be in pain, that she would not be afraid, that we would both progress to that difficult day and decision with unspoken elegance and dignity reserved for such difficult times. The last few days shattered the story I had imagined for Maddie.  Now both Maddie and Morgan are together, resting, no pain, no illness; they were such great sisters. 

The void of Maddie is giant, the square footage of my tiny condo is now exaggerated and vast. The absence of the familiar sound of her small steps on the ceramic tile is loud, someone has adjusted the volume; the silence is shiny, silver and piercing my heart.   Alexa is helping, I asked her to play selections of classical piano and guitar.  Maddie liked classic music. 

Maddie followed me everywhere, the kitchen, the bedroom, the bathroom, the garage, she helped me unload clothes from the dryer. She was always right there, looking, watching, she was my little supervisor.  She also on many, many occasions herded me to the refrigerator so she could get her favorite celery snack.  We were always together, especially after Morgan passed in May of 2018.  We managed Morgan’s absence together. And how she is not here. My heart is broken. 

With Morgan, it took months for the void and absence to be the norm.  I was actually surprised at how long it took for Maddie and I to both be comfortable with Morgan’s absence. When a living being is part of a daily routine, that is part of every day and I mean every day, it branded my life. Every day we woke up, went outside, Maddie had her breakfast, every day Maddie went for a walk with me at the Town Center, came home, took a nap. Every day Maddie would go out every 4 hours to do her business, she would have her dinner usually around 4pm, then another short walk around the community we live in. Every day she would watch the evening news with me and even Jeopardy, when the smart guy from Las Vegas was on, Jeopardy James.

Every day when I left the house for whatever reason, she would always, always, always wait for me to come back so she could welcome me at the door and show me how happy she was that I was back. The unspoken love and loyalty between human and animal is not something that I can describe with words. 

It’s raining right now, early this morning it was grey, a slight wind announced the coming storm. On days like this, I would open the sliding glass door so Maddie I could both delight in the song of the rain drops.  Maddie and I both love water. She was a part fish just like me.  I will forever hold onto the joy she experienced anytime she was in the water, whether she was in her plastic blue pool from Walmart, or she was swimming in Maggie’s pool at the lake.  Maddie was an aquatic ballerina for sure. 

Maddie and Morgan taught me so much.  Patience, routine, attention to detail. The most important lesson, total and complete unconditional love. There was never any judgement, never any consideration of motive or reason or fault.  One of the hallmarks of the Corgi breed is that in the small frame of their bodies, usually comes a large, confident, "I’m in charge of the world", personality.  Maddie and Morgan were responsible for a love in my heart that I will always be grateful for, a love that was maternal in all respects. I will hold onto their memories for the rest of my life, the treasure trove, technicolor moments, hours, events. There are so many.