Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Picking a date

Pick a date, the brother says. Just pick a damn date, and I'll agree to it.

Pick a date, I said a week ago. Don't keep telling me we have to take a decision and we have to fix a date. Just do it.

Pick a date, the mother says. I need to know what we're thinking.

We need to pick a date, the father says.

Tuesday morning. The very last time my foot was used as a pillow.
We were all agreed we needed to pick a date. But no one would do it. How do you? How do you say this is the day we say goodbye to our golden retriever, the dog who's been part of our family for eleven years?

I was a month short of 17, the brother 12, when she came to us. Since then, every family decision has included her. We should go for the movie at this time, because we can give her evening meal and take a her for a walk before going. I can't spend the night with friends because she'll be all alone; come to Gurgaon so I can come back and feed her. Let's drive to Kasauli/Jaipur and find a hotel that allows dogs so she can come with us. Tell the boarding facility her likes and dislikes so she doesn't miss home. The boarding facility gave her too much chicken, and now she won't eat ghar ka khana, so now what do we do? Make the brother talk to her on the phone so she won't vomit again because he left.

In keeping with all the family discussions and decisions she provoked over the last 11 years, this one, the biggest of them all, was also done as a family. And so it was decided that yesterday was the day Kyra, my darling princess, would leave us to go to whatever doggy heaven there is out there.

The day after my last post, Kyra stopped eating altogether, and had to be put on daily drip. We cancelled our tickets to Kolkata, and for the next ten days, my only excursions from the house were to her clinic and back. Her blood was tested every few days, and the results were terrifying to say the least. At least twice we went through evenings convinced this was her last day with us, mentally preparing ourselves, only to find out the idiot was improving. In the words of her vet of ten years, she is - was - a miracle dog.

But even though some - all - of us desperately wanted to believe that these improvements meant a new lease of life for her, it was also clear that not only was this just borrowed time, but she would also be completely dependent on drip and medicines for sustenance and food. And so, after intense debate, and a great deal of tears being shed, the decision was taken on Saturday. And Tuesday - yesterday - was set as the date.

We spent her last few days with us the way she liked it best, sitting with her, taking her for drives and walks, taking lots of photos - although she was no longer as enthusiastic about modelling as she to used to be, and just being with her as a family. The brother and I took to sleeping on the floor on the parents' room at night; she managed to climb onto our mattresses a few times.

There were moments when I got incredibly frustrated by the waiting; we had taken the decision, why prolong the agony? But in the end, it was worth it, because we gave her some of her best days. When she went, on Tuesday evening, she was surrounded by all four of us, the way she loved it to be, but hadn't got enough of in the past few years.

We spent a large part of the evening reminiscing, of the good times and the more painful times. We smiled and laughed while talking of her antics, we cried - all four of us cried. Her doctor called late at night to ask how we were doing, and to remind us it had been the right decision. We knew that, but I suppose we - I - did need to be reminded, because the guilt that we may have let go too early is there, no matter how much you rationalize it.

The mother said something a few days ago that I keep going back to. Normally, when the brother and I visit home, we're off doing our own things. Going out, meeting friends, holing up in our own rooms busy with out laptops and phones. This time, this visit, we spent almost all our time in the lobby, with her, with the family. Kyra brought this family together all her life. In her last days, she did that more than ever before.

Go in peace, my lovely. May you get lots of gummy bears, chicken, photo shoots, and belly rubbing wherever you are. The house feels very empty without you.