Writing through streams of tears running down my cheeks. Our family is facing the seemingly impossible task of saying Goodbye to our beloved Maggio. Trying to sort out in our minds how to prepare for the inevitable end and what to do to say Goodbye. How DO you prepare for death?
I have no idea. My heart is aching and throbbing and we’re all taking turns crying a lot. He’s still with us. He’s home this weekend, on pain meds but we all know it’s only a matter of days and suddenly our home will seem ghostly empty. Peripheral nerve sheath tumor. Damn cancer. And nothing we can do about it.
At just over 9 years, Maggio has been a constant in our family for so long. He’s been there to “bring the kids up” – our youngest was only 3 years old when we got him. She doesn’t know a life without Maggio. In fact, she was the one to give him his fantastic name. We had lived in St. Andrews, New Brunswick and moved across country that summer when she was 3. Still living in a wonderful land of play and make-believe, at age 2 and 3, she would spent countless hours taking into her little plastic telephone. After she hung up, we’d alsways ask her: “Who were you talking to?” and with a massive grin and a little secretive giggle, she’d reply “Oh, Maggio!”
We had no idea who that was, but for the first few years of her life, Maggio was a constant companion and a source of great joy for her – always there, when she needed a friend, or when she just wanted to talk to someone. They had a wondeful and magical relationship – our dayghter Fenja, and “Maggio”. Whoever that was. But then something happened. We moved across the country – from New Brunswick to Banff, Alberta – and Maggio did not make the move. All talk of Maggio ended abruptly and suddenly, the little plastic telephone became a thing of the past.
That same summer, a black flurry: a four-legged little friendly whirlwind of activity appeared into our lives: a lovely Flat-Coated retriever puppy from Blazingstar Flat-Coats, in Southern Alberta. It didn’t take much thinking for us to decide what we would call him. We all felt that “Maggio” had to be brought to life for real. The whole family agreed – Maggio was the perfect name.
…our time together is up. I had intended to sit down and write a beautiful piece and attach a whole bunch of photos. But I’m not able to. Not today. I just came home from the grocery store where I picked up a lovely T-bone steak for him. We’re heading out into the shade in the back yard to sit together for a while while he enjoys a spoil-him-rotten treat. I’ll sit next to him and cry some more. Grateful for the time we have had. For all the amazing lessons he has taught me. And feeling sad that very soon my slippers and shoes will stay together, as a pair, how I park them… No more searching for shoes, wondering where Maggio has carried one of them. No more finding only a single shoe in any given place. How dull life will be. The tail that always always has been wagging. Never a moment when it would stop. Always happy. Always a friend to everyone. It feels like an impossible task; to somehow prepare for the end.
How do you prepare for death?
I seriously don’t know. We take one breath at a time, cry a lot and will now go and enjoy the shade and the cool grass out back.
We have buried many of our other pets in the back yard. I have always felt that digging a grave is part of the grieving process and the physical labor and the difficult digging gives some kind of outlet for the impossible good bye. I may start that process this afternoon.