Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: DOG (08/09/18)
- TITLE: Not Alone
By Judy Sauer
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Soft whimpers from the back seat reminded her that Maggie, her marigold-colored Labrador, had come along as pet therapy for the patients. Then the dog nuzzled the back of her hand which reassured her to go on; they both stepped out into a new day.
Once inside, she released Maggie who then ambled along the corridor to the door of Mr. George’s room; her deep, soulful eyes kept a steady gaze on his stillness. She inched into the room to his bedside and maintained a daily vigil. He had no other visitors.
Later that afternoon, she placed her paws on the bed and squeezed her snout between the bedside vertical rails. Her tail drooped as her moistened eyes locked onto Mr. George. Somehow, she knew he would soon exhale his final breath, and he needed company for that moment.
Jessie hurried to his room and her colleagues responded to the alarm which was triggered by the red line that trailed across the screen above Mr. George’s bed.
Once they completed their procedures, they acknowledged Maggie’s part with appreciative pats. They valued her devoted time to their patients—with a special sensitivity for any like Mr. George—and nobly ensured that they were not alone at that very last moment in time.
When her shift ended, she went to her car and pressed the remote unlock button and pulled the door handle. She swung it open before a coworker called out her name which distracted her.
Maggie seized the opportunity and leaped into the car and circled a few times before she snuggled on the passenger seat. When Jessie sat in—too tired and worn down from work and headaches—she relented on the ‘back-seats only’ rule for pets, and drove home.
Through blurred vision, Jessie saw her key pointed toward the slot in the front doorknob, but it missed. Rubbed temples failed to ease the merciless, ceaseless pain set deep in her head. Her vision recovered after she blinked a few times which enabled her to insert the key, twist the knob, and open the door.
She cleaned her dinner dishes then plopped onto the sofa, where Maggie licked the side of her head until she waved the dog away. But several times through that night and in the morning, Maggie’s licks persisted. This continued for days, then weeks.
“These headaches aren’t getting better. I need to see the doctor,” Jessie sighed.
After she endured a range of tests, Jessie returned to her doctor, whose diagnosis shattered her world: Glioblastoma—the most aggressive form of brain cancer!
Tears, gasps, and quivered muscles accompanied by a tense, heaviness in her stomach overwhelmed her from the news. She struggled for breath and stared vacantly at him.
“It’s likely that your dog kept licking your head because she can sniff out cancer. She wanted your attention that something was wrong there,” said the doctor. “Though the initial signs are serious and nonspecific, your persistent blinding headaches and nausea are quite common—they are signs of many things—but unfortunately, the worsening of symptoms is often rapid.”
She leafed through the pamphlets he gave her about the aggressive brain cancer, and found a common theme: “…tumors start producing symptoms quickly, but occasionally Glioblastoma is an asymptomatic condition until it reaches an enormous size…” while his words resounded in her mind: “Yours is very advanced.”
Stunned with disbelief, and too rattled to drive home, she called a coworker. At home, she changed into her pajamas and went to bed, where she clung to Maggie. Tears flooded her pillow, and she finally wore herself out and fell asleep.
When she had not returned to work in two days, the Hospice House asked the police to do a welfare check on her. She was found in her apartment, still in bed, deceased, with Maggie who maintained her vigil. She remained with her as her last breath expired.
Jessie was not alone.
Remember I am with you always. – Matthew 28:20
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