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27 September 2006
There's something about being there when someone...or something... dies. It makes you believe in a soul.
Well, it makes me believe in a soul.
At 5 p.m., I picked Kimba up and carried her to the car for her one-way trip to the vet's. She had hardly moved all day. She didn't even leave us a last puddle to clean up.
It doesn't take long to get to the vet's office. 10 minutes, if you drive as carefully as I did, so as to avoid sudden stops which might throw Kimba onto the floor.
I talked to her as I drove, knowing that she couldn't hear me. I told her that when she saw David, I wanted her to lick him a lot. Kimba, in her youth, was a licker. In fact that was where all the problems began. Kimba could not be within tongue distance...ever...without licking you nonstop. I tried for years to get her to stop doing that. Everybody hated to be around her because in her exuberance she just had this compulsion to lick and lick and lick. She could never be a lap dog because she couldn't stop licking.
But it had been David who chose her, David who paid $40 for her, and I figured that if there is a "beyond" and if dogs and humans are reunited, then the very least Kimba could do for me is to lick David a lot. I figured it would serve him right both for bringing Little Miss Tongue home in the first place, and for being so stupid as to prematurely end his own life. Moms have their ways of nagging you even beyond the grave.
We arrived at the vet's office. Walt said he wanted to be there too, so I left Kimba in the car until he got there and went in to make all the arrangements. They prefer you pay in advance, so you can just leave when it's all over and not worry about having to sign credit card bills when you're crying.
I called Walt (who works across the street) and told him we were there and he said he'd be right over.
While we waited, I let Kimba out to walk around on the dirt in the parking lot. Again, her hips swayed and she had a hard time standing up and only managed to stagger all of about ten steps, but she did pee, so I figure that was one last gift I could give to her--a chance to pee outside on God's earth one last time.
When Walt arrived, they took us right into the exam room, giving us a towel so Kimba wouldn't have to lie on the cold exam table, and putting a box of Kleenex on the table for us.
Dr. Gravem came in and asked us about what had been going on with her. I was afraid he was going to try to talk us out of it, but I think he was really just trying to make us feel comfortable with putting her to sleep. In the end, after hearing how she's been in the past several days, he acknowledged that we were doing the right thing, asked if we had already paid our bill (never forget the business angle!), and began to explain the process to us. He told us how he would give her a sedative and then insert a catheter into her vein. I told him I remembered how it went. I told him about our "bad year," 12 months between 1999 and 2000, when we lost 3 dogs and a son. I told him that our daughter-in-law had been a classmate of one of his associates, who had put all three of the dogs to sleep. I didn't mention Paul's name, but he told us he remembered going to see Lawsuit concerts.
(Walt said that if you could say there was a "favorite part" of all this, having the vet mention Lawsuit without our saying anything about it was very cool.)
He gave Kimba the sedative and left to give it time to work. We told her what a good dog she'd been (mindful that she couldn't hear anything we said anything). I found myself using the Kleenex.
I took a picture of her with the cell phone camera--and then discovered after it was all over that I had forgotten to save it. I think I'm just as glad. It would have been too sad a picture to remember. But taking pictures is what I do, and it just seemed the logical thing to do in her last moments.
Finally she was sufficiently sedated and Dr. Gravem came back in again with all the paraphernalia.
He shaved her front leg, and inserted the catheter. As he reached for the syringe, I put my fingers on her heart. I couldn't quite feel it, but I knew instantly when she died because one minute her "soul" (for want of a better word) was there, and the next it was not. It wasn't that she suddenly got limp--she was already limp from the sedative. She was just....different. Whatever that life force was that made Kimba Kimba was just not there any more.
Walt and I stayed with her for a few minutes. I used a few more tissues, and we finally left. Everybody gave condolences as we left the office, tears streaming down my face and Walt struggling to hold it together. I just wanted to get into the car as quickly as possible.
Walt went back to work and I started driving home. I told David that Kimba was his now and then I started crying. I was wondering if I was exceeding the speed limit because I couldn't see the dashboard and decided that if I were stopped, this was probably one ticket I could get out of. But nobody stopped me.
Sheila, who had been upset that Kimba got to go in the car and she had to stay home, seemed confused when I came back empty handed. She followed me around for awhile, and looked at me solicitously as I cried.
I finally did something I haven't done in a long time--I poured myself a glass of wine.
Good bye, little Kimba. I suppose it could have been a better life for you, but you were a good little dog and I'm glad that you aren't in pain any more.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is Journal entry #2372