My grandmother used to say, “If it can be fixed with money, it’s not a problem.” I remind myself of her wisdom often. As cliché as it may be, it is so true that when we have our health, and the health of those we love, we have everything. But as we all know, life can change in an instant.
My husband Barry and I knew something was not right with Maple, the younger of our two dogs. We took her to the vet, who told us she had arthritis. And while there were signs of joint issues, neither one of us felt that was “it.” Something else was bothering her.
After some digging on the Internet, Barry thought Maple’s symptoms might be related to her anal glands. He bravely donned a latex glove and took one for the team. Thank God he did. He discovered what he thought was a huge mass, and we headed straight back to the vet.
Sadly, Maple was diagnosed with cancer. She immediately had surgery, was recovering well, and seemed as happy as ever. In true “Maple” style, she wagged her tail and kissed everyone on the way in and out of her first chemotherapy treatment. What she didn’t know didn’t seem to be hurting her, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
But just two days later, things took a turn. Maple stopped eating, refusing even hard-boiled egg, her favorite. She needed to be carried up and down the stairs, laid in her crate, or just stood there with a confused look—like she didn’t know what to do with herself—just standing there staring at the wall. In the days that followed she was in and out of the vet for fluids, she spiked a high fever, and the injection site on her leg blew up. We all thought it was just an infection or bad reaction of some kind.
We dropped her off at the emergency hospital, fully expecting to get word that she was on antibiotics and feeling better. Instead, we received shocking news that Maple’s cancer had spread to her stomach. Her belly was filling up with fluid, she was incredibly nauseous and in a lot of pain. There was nothing we could do. None of it made sense, and it was happening way too fast. Just one day shy of her 12th birthday, Maple Star, the happiest, goofiest, and most spirited dog I have known, left this earth to go to the giant dog beach in the sky.
The days that followed were some of the darkest I have had in a while. The intense “missing” that occurs when a pet passes is almost unimaginable. You wake up and go about the same routine in the same house … the deafening silence a painful reminder that the sweet and loyal soul, who dedicated ALL of themselves to you, is no longer there.
This sudden turn of events forced me to see how often I sweat the small stuff. It took a tragedy to remember how good my life really is.
So today, make it a point to think about all that you have, rather than focusing on what’s missing. None of us know what tomorrow may bring—