(Date article written: Sunday, February 2, 2003)
Yesterday was painful in many ways. While listening to breaking news, I, along with the rest of the universe, hear the horrific news of the Columbia shuttle disintegrating into flames prior to landing. Oh, me--we wonder what next, don't we?
Abby, my Scottish Terrier, even moaned. I turned to her, saying, "Abby, are you grieving this awful loss, too?" I talk to Abby like she is a human being. She truly has been my best bud.
It wasn't long until I realized that Abby was in serious pain. I asked, "Is 'arthur' bothering you, today, Ms. Ab?" A question I have asked her many times during the past year. Abby turned 14 last October, so arthritis became one of her constant morning reminders that she was still kickin', though not without a bit of pain from time to time.
A couple of hours later Abby started panting. I turned on the ceiling fan, creating a cool, cool condo for her comfort. Still, she continued panting. I then doused a washcloth in cold water and placed it on her forehead. Still, she panted. I turned on the air conditioning, though it was only 40 degrees outside--anything to make Abby comfortable. Still, she panted. There was something going on, but I wasn't sure exactly what.
Finally, I picked Abby up, and then transported her to the vet. Little did I know that it would be the last time she'd have to shiver in fright before seeing her doc.
I waited in the reception room while the vet folks checked Abby's vital signs. Shortly thereafter, I was called into the examination room.
Ken (her vet), my friend since high school, said, "Bev, Abby's vital signs are no longer vital. If you take her home, Abby will be miserable until her death, which will be two weeks on the outside."
"Oh, my God. Can this be?" I responded, with tears suddenly evolving and then streaming. Are you suggesting that I put her down?" Never having done this before, I had question after question. "Are you sure, Ken, that I would be doing the right thing?" I was so torn that I couldn't seem to think.
"Bev, if you love Abby, and I know how much you do love her, you will be doing the most humane thing anyone can do under these sad circumstances. You'll be relieving Ab of her pain. Nevertheless, it is up to you."
"How long will it take?"
"It'll be very quick."
"Okay, let's get it over with."
Ken left us alone while he retrieved the necessary medication, leaving time for Abby and me to say our final good-bye's.
"Abby, thank you for the best years of my life," I softly spoke while rubbing her little head. "You do know that I am helping you to get better by letting you go. Don't you, Ab? Abby's eyes were fixed right on mine--eyes of love and truth. She was looking at me, seemingly, with approval, and her own loving good-bye.
In walked Ken with the necessary meds that he placed around Abby's left leg. I hugged and kissed Abby one last time. She licked my hand, as though to give me her own farewell. Yes, she loved me just as much as I loved her.
"Okay, Ken," I said.
"Are you ready, Bev?"
After acknowledging him, Ken injected the needle. Abby's head rolled to the side, and I gazed at Ken, with question.
"Yes, Bev, Abby's gone."
Ken hugged me, and then handed me Ab's Scottish plaid collar with the red bone tag attached that has "Abby" written on it. In total numbness I made my way to the car and drove home.
Finally, when I opened the door to my condo, there lay Abby's two red dishes in the kitchen. My heart broke into pieces.
This morning, Abby is alive--not only in my heart, but in every room in my condo. An "Abby" afghan is in the den, "Abby" bookends are in my bedroom. An "Abby" mousepad is on my computer desk. "Abby" coffee mugs hang on my wall in the kitchen.
As my friends have said many times, "Bev, you have Scottish terrier collectibles everywhere. Too cute."
Funny--until yesterday I never realized that I had so many things that speak of Abby. Several of my buddies have added a Scottish terrier or two to my collectibles that set on the etigere, during birthdays, Christmas, etc. Even my Christmas china has a Scottie on each piece.
When my friends relate to my memorabilia, they call it "Scottie" stuff. But to me, these hearty possessions are "Abby" stuff.
As Ken related, "Abby's gone." True, in a sense. But she has not left my heart, and never will. Stories will continue through the years.
Lady Margaret Aberdeen was not born in Scotland, but she was named after Aberdeen, the city in Scotland where Scotties originated.
Oh, yes. Abby was one of the best friends I've ever had. How I will miss that precious little clump of a dog...a loyal bud, indeed.
Never shall I forget that day when Abby reached the age of six weeks. Her owner called and said, "It's time to come and pick out your Scottie. Remember, we promised you the pick of the litter."
On a gorgeous and cool October day, complete with an October blue sky, I chose Abby out of a litter of five, and then carried her home in a little red blanket.
No question, choosing Abby was one of the best choices I've ever made in my life. Oh, me. I will miss her so much.
Sometimes we do not understand why life throws us dreadful curves and heartbreaking episodes, but then again, I sometimes do not understand how I can feel such joy.
I felt the thrill of it all when I picked Abby up at 6 weeks to transport her to her new home. Though animals cannot be compared to the value of human lives, there is no question that the seven astronauts experienced their own thrill, too. Life comes with excruciating pain, but let us remember, joy returns, along with beautiful memories of those we have loved...all creatures great and small.
All we need do is keep our faith, and simply believe. Yes---this too shall pass. God's rays will beam on us again. We'll smile again. And we will share beautiful stories of our loved ones, human beings and our animal friends. We will share the precious moments they offered to us, and experience precious moments as we share. These are the very stories that will lift our spirits into additional joy of the present moment.
God gives us precious gifts--all kinds of gifts, and He is not through with us yet. Thanks be to God that each gift lives on and lives within our hearts and minds, forever--the large ones and the small ones.
(c) Beverly Murrelle 02/02/2003
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Very touching story. It moved me to tears. Be blessed, Sandy