Saturday, September 16, 2006

The guilt

I am not sure how other pet owners feel when their beloved animals pass on, but I have been wracked with tremendous amounts of guilt. My amazing support group keeps telling me that Lily lived a happy life, but I just can't get it out of my head that there was so much more I could have done for her. Especially at the end of my pregnancy and through the birth of Eloise, my patience for Lily was almost non-existent. Most of the time I spoke to her it was yelling for her to go lay down, or get out of my way. All she wanted was to be near me and I was nothing but crabby. I absolutely hate to think Lily was here to be a lesson, as she was obviously so much more, but if anything, I learned I absolutely have got to be more patient. More patient with my children, with my loved ones, with myself, with my animal companions. My crabbiness and impatience serves absolutely no one, certainly not myself, and I'm not sure I'll ever shake the memories of my crabby moments with Lily. Unfortunately, right now, they are standing out more than the loving times.

Last Monday night I was getting sick of Lily being so stinky, so I gave her a bath. It had been a long time, and in fact a very long time since I even touched her. I couldn't believe how skinny she had gotten as I rubbed my hands along her soapy, wet body. How did that happen, I thought. That was the beginning of me realizing something was definitely wrong with her. The next day, seeing her so weak, sealed the deal. Because I am selfish and preoccupied, I didn't bring her in to the vet until Wednesday morning. Of course, I thought they'd tell me she was just fine, and that they only needed to get her to eat more. Obviously, had I known she was dying, the course of action would have been completely different. I can't believe I didn't know how bad of shape she was in. I can't believe I was so out of touch with my dog, I didn't know she was dying. I will likely be constantly burdened by the nagging thought of what would have been, had I been more in tune with her.

Everything in my life is suffering. My relationship with Matt has fallen apart, my children don't really have the mama they need, my pets have been sorely neglected. I feel like I've spent the last few weeks just putting out the fires where I can, but never really connecting with any of the things I love in my life. Matt asked me to find a counselor we could see together (since our last one was such a gem!) and I said I absolutely would love to, I just didn't know when I would be able to. I am juggling everything, at the expense of, well, everything. I just wonder, what if Matt had stayed living here? He was such a huge part in caring for Lily, what if he had been here to help care for her when I didn't have the energy? I guess I don't know. I am sure everyone will say there is no need for me to beat myself up about it, it's probably just part of my grieving process.

Iris has talked about Lily a few times. Yesterday morning she said "I go to work!" and I said "Oh, yeah? Where will you work?" and she said "with Lily and the doctor". I told Iris then that Lily wasn't going to be coming home. She didn't seem interested. Later that day she looked out the window and said "Lily, no barking!" and when we got home from going out to eat last night she ran in and looked for Lily in her kennel. It was Iris's job to put Lily in her kennel before leaving and letting her out when we got home. Today she also looked for Lily in her kennel. I think it will take time to retrain all of us from the automatic things we used to do for Lily. For instance, every time someone comes to the door, I tense up thinking Lily will start barking. I heard a noise this morning that sounded like her nails on our hardwood floors. I keep thinking I smell her stinky dog breath. Never in a million years would I think I would miss that.

I'm going to apologzie to my readers now for the vast amount of posts that will be dedicated to remembering my dog over the next few days/weeks. Writing about her has been really therapeutic for me and I'll probably keep writing until I get it all out.


  1. I am so sorry to hear about Lily's passing. I had a similar situation happen many years ago with our dog Dexter. It took me a long time to get over guilt about his death and how I could have prevented it. Also, I must admit that I've felt similarly lately about being so overwhelmed and not the mama my kids need. I have felt like I can only just "get by" right now and nothing more. I do hope you get some rest and find some peace during this time.

  2. I don't know if it'll make you feel any better, but I was way less attentive to my cat who got leukemia; and I wasn't under nearly the amount of stress you are under right now ... I was single, no kids, just absorbed in myself, running around doing what I wanted to do, and there he was getting thinner and dying more and more each day. I'll never forget him either -- at least in your case you were stretched to the limit, and you do need to quit blaming yourself.


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