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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fortunately, It's Just Something Else

When I was writing on this blog every single day for, um, for a very long time, it was inconceivable that there would come a time when I would write perhaps once a month.  Now that this time has arrived, it is inconceivable to me, now, that there was a time-- a very long time-- in my life where I wrote on this blog every single day.

Life; you're a real croquet mallet to the taint, aren't you?

I've been getting a lot of croquet mallets to the taint lately which, of course, doesn't make me special or martyred, it just makes me like everyone else.  I got rejected from a prospective job, my car that I bought three weeks ago started bucking like a horse and needed a repair that, if it hadn't been covered under warranty, would have cost $4,000-$5,000 to fix.  My dog died.  Work sucks.  And I haven't slept in approximately two years.  Yes, I know the twins are only 8 months old, but I count the time my wife was pregnant and thrashed around in bed in discomfort night after night, keeping me awake, and tack on another year of anxiety-ridden nightmares and evenings spent staring at the ceiling fan.

I tell people that I haven't slept since 1984, which was the year I finally understood that my mommy and daddy weren't going to live forever.  They say there's truth in every joke, and, if you look at pictures of me at around that age, there are black rings under my youthful, sparkly little eyes.

I'm emotionally drained and physically exhausted.  The heat around here has barely let up in two months and I struggle to keep my eyes open during the day-- they're all dried out from the excessive dependence on decades old window air conditioning units that struggle and wheeze like a COPD patient huffing and puffing to walk ten feet.  I need oxygen.  I need... something.

My dog needed something, too.  He needed something more than pills, something more than Glucosamine-rich food.  He needed something more than time and care and love.  He needed a miracle, and you can just ask the Catholic Church how short they are on those these days.  We kept him going longer than we should have, longer than was humane.  Did you know your vet can put your dog on the canine equivalent of hospice care?  Well, they can, if you're cowardly enough to go along with it.

We were.  For a couple long, sad weeks at any rate.

I knelt down on the floor of that tiny little room-- no bigger than our twins' nursery-- and I held him and stroked his thick, gray fur and I thought to myself, this is the most I've touched you in months.  And I felt sick.  I just kept rubbing his head and all the way down his back, as clumps of his fur came off in my hand and fluttered to the floor.  I was fine at reception.  I was fine talking to the vet tech.  I was fine when they brought him back in, the catheter inserted in his arm, like a condemned green mile prisoner deposited into the chamber.  When the vet came in and asked if I had any questions, my throat became thick and I shut my eyes and tears sprayed onto my glasses.

"How long will it take?" I asked.  I was surprised he understood the question, because what I heard was utterly unintelligible, but I guess a lot of people must ask that.

"Not very long at all, maybe a minute or two."

"Jesus," I said.

The Propofol went in first.  Goodnight, Finley.  His breathing had become so loud and harsh and raspy, cagey, throaty, labored, awful in the past year-- it was everywhere I walked.  When we would be upstairs and the baby monitor would be on downstairs, all it would pick up was his breathing-- like a lumberjack sawing through a stubborn oak.  I close my eyes and I can still hear it.  His head thunked on the blanket covering the floor in seconds and his tongue fell out lazily.  I stared at it, and I was shocked at how repulsed I was by the sight of it-- undignified, disorganized, vulgar.  I wanted to push it back into his mouth, like the doctor who put the coins over Lincoln's eyes, but I couldn't move.  The phenobarbital came next and fast-- the overdose.  The end.  Dr. Peters put the Littmann on Finley's chest and said,

"His heart's stopped."

His heart.  My heart.  I still could hear the relentless clatter of his breath.  Only I could hear it, I guess.

I'm so tired and run down these days I haven't had time to grieve or process or anything-- I suppose that's what this is.  This blog used to be the place I would come to and sort out life's idiocies and its beauties, where I could make fun of the world and myself, where I could come to identify with that part of me that still clung desperately to the notion that I was a writer in some way.  Now, I don't know what it is, or why it is.

I still can't get over how fast it happened.  He was fourteen-- eighty-eight in people years.  He was my first dog ever and, at 32, I come downstairs in the morning and I don't know what to do.  Make coffee, I suppose.  The English make tea-- the half-Israelis make coffee.  We have hairy arms and hot tempers and we drink coffee and we get on with it.  While taking a walk today with my father's sister who is visiting from Australia, I lost one of the baby's hats.  It's somewhere, on some street in our neighborhood somewhere-- some sidewalk.  I pushed them in the stroller while they slept and my 70-year-old aunt with her squeaky voice and her artsy glasses followed diligently a half-step behind us.  She casually mentioned that, in the early 70s, she fell in love with a cousin of hers and, when he was arranged-married off to someone else, she overdosed on pills to try to kill herself.  I wanted to stop pushing the stroller and turn to her and scream,


But I just said, "uh-huh-- wow" and kept pushing the stroller along, petrified that, if I stopped and thought about it, it would become real.  Something to deal with, a thing to confront.  Fortunately, it's just something else to write about.

That's all.