Saturday, August 29, 2015

Life Is Hard, but God Is Good.

It's been a week.

This was us last night - totally exhausted.  No surprise we were both asleep by 5pm.  (We did wake up and party later, but we were both "slanky" (sleepy = cranky!) and definitely needed a nap!).

Mikayla and I returned from Hawaii on Monday night and the next morning had us dropping off Sydney at 8am to get the large fat mass attached to her rib cage removed.

It was a transitional Tuesday- tiring, but made easier by the company of Christi and Mikayla to keep Whitley entertained. 

Around 2pm, I got a phone call from the vet.  "Good news and bad news", he said.  The good news was that she had gotten through the surgery successfully and was recovering well.  The bad news, was indeed very bad.  Underneath the large fat mass causing the protrusion, was an even larger mass of very aggressive cancer.  Our vet is probably in his young 60's - having been in practice a long time, and he said this was the biggest, most aggressive cancer mass he'd ever seen.  Not the "title" you want to have.  He did his best to get the biggest chunk of it out, but he'd have had to remove ribs and disfigure her if he were to try to get it all out, and that's only what was visible.  He said it was highly likely it had already metastasized into other areas of her body.  (Later verified by the biopsy - most deadly kind of cancer and yes, it's in her blood stream).  He does not recommend chemo, knowing it would buy us only a short amount of additional time, and that it would just leave her sick and "not herself" in the remainder of days.  At most, he predicted up to a year - but that's a long shot.


Sydney just turned 10, so we know she's getting up there in age.  But, to have a clear limit to the days she'll be with us is awful.  Our whole family grieved hard that night.  We were able to bring her home, but she was so drugged up and uncomfortable from the surgery, she looked like she was already dying and on her last day.  It just made it all that more real.  Brayden was kind of stoic, taking to Instagram to let everyone know what a rough day it was.

John worked at holding together, as did I.  However, when John and Mikayla took off for a coffee run after bringing her home, I laid down next to Sydney and just cried and weeped.  10 years of memories and thankful reflections for this sweet buddy of mine came flooding to mind (who was my companion when I suddenly found myself a "stay at home Mom with kids both at school").   Later, in bed with me (John slept in the bonus room to keep an eye on her), Mikayla totally broke down, claiming the day to be the worst of her life so far.  I shared with her the dam breaking for Michele and I in the summer before our senior year of high school when we lost our dog, Jake - who died at the peak of his life after being hit by a car.  We had lived our lives up until that point as "tough girls" who shied away from crying over anything - and then, that loss just broke us.  To this day, I still have yet to grieve to the same level that I did over that dog.  So, I understood.

However, I made it clear to Mikayla that Syd is not gone yet - and we can not sustain this kind of mourning over the months we have with her - nor do we want her to feel that from us.  We need to celebrate her while we have her and not take a moment for granted.

And the next morning, as if knowing of our conclusion, Sydney returned to her normal self.  Her tail wagged constantly.  She wanted to be everywhere we are - even on top of the trampoline with us.  (Are you kidding, dog?  You have a 10 inch incision trying to heal....settle down!!!).  She gave us dirty looks when the bean bags (her domain in the living room) were turned on end so she couldn't jump up on them (she's not supposed to jump).  We finally relented by Friday.  I've concluded that this dog will end up dying from a heart attack due to obesity before she dies from cancer from all the extra treats she'll get from us all.  "You want to lick from my plate, or from the dishwasher, or have my last bite?"  "Okay, Syd - you'll get it".  =)

So, that's what we told the vet on our return appointment on Friday, as he even teared up (for the second time) in talking about her dire prognosis.  (We only began seeing him in May - this guy is a gem....)  We are going to just savor the time we have left with her - and pray that when the time comes, it will be quick and it will be obvious to us if we need to intervene to prevent any pain.   I don't want to dive into a theology debate, but it is my belief that God will honor the connections we have with our animal companions, and Heaven will not be too small to bring them there to add to the glory of God.  If it's about an animal that has been treasured, then there's no doubt she'll be there waiting for us, tail wagging, jumping up to greet us when she really ought not too.

And, in the meantime, we'll savor every day we have of her doing just that here in our home. 

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