Since Melvin’s diagnosis, I feel a little like I’m living a version of the movie Groundhog Day. In this version, I’m reliving the day before a known pending apocalypse (a bit dramatic but you get the point). Every morning when I wake up I wonder if today will be our last day and each night I go to bed I say a worthy goodnight to my boy, in the event that night is the night. It’s an unfortunate reality.
Each day, I move forward a little bit , I gain clarity and strength while still maintaining the sadness and fear. It’s odd how that is possible, to still be as frightened as day one but to feel as if I can absolutely see him through this. And then I realize, that is what love is. It can break you, in the same moment that it lifts you up.
I’ve been thinking about where I’d like to donate to, once Melvin leaves us. Melvin has a little bank account that I set up in the case something happened to me. I mean he’s an awesome love-bug and people were in line to take him but dude has some pretty pricey medical issues and I always wanted him to have the best care, even if I wasn’t around to get it for him. My first impulse was to donate the money to cancer research, specifically hemagiosarcoma. But that hasn’t felt right (not that we don’t want a cure, TRUST ME, we want a cure). Here is our truth… cancer will only be a label in Melvin’s life for a few weeks. It took his nubbin longer to heal from the amputation than cancer will be a part of him. For that, I’m thankful. I’d obviously rather he live a long life, but in terms of how devastating cancer can be to the body, Melvin will avoid most of that. And even though cancer will be the reason he’s gone, it is not what defines the time he was here.
Love defines his life. Love and perseverance. He has faced seemingly insurmountable health issues, all the while wagging and bounding into the day with happiness. Each and every setback, his joy multiplied. So in terms of donating in his memory, Jake and I will donate in the name of joy. That is how we will carry on Melvin’s legacy, by paying happiness forward.
Where his life is concerned, we’ve already won. He almost didn’t live past age three and since then, he has had the most remarkable seven years. He has been loved more than some experience in 70 years. He inhales happiness and he exhales joy. Cancer can’t ever change that. And despite this new reality where I am faced with the knowledge, well he just wiggles and wags. I get the opportunity to do his last days right. To give him even more love than he could have ever imagined. To not let frustration or annoyance steal any moments from us. To give him the best day, everyday that we have left. That opportunity is rare. I am thankful we know. It’s so much more than others with this cancer get.
I also get to plan ahead a little for Jake. Jake has never been an only dog. He was the second dog in his first life, the first dog was a yellow lab. He was a foster-brother, to another yellow lab. And well, he is now the yin to a yellow lab’s yang. So even though there are no more yellow lab brothers in his future (there could never be another), for Jake, I have taken a few of our favorite t-shirts and I have had Melvin lay on them. I have wiped Melvin’s drool with those shirts, I have violated Melvin’s parts with those shirts, all for Jake. So Jake will have Melvin’s scent and it will fade slowly, even when the visual of Melvin disappears more quickly than we’d like. And one day, I have to believe, Jake will be a sidekick again. It’s a role he is born to play.
We’ve already won.
I’m still terrified, I’m still so sad (the messy, ugly sad where you give up on eye make-up and you let the tissue just hang out of your nose) — but our love always wins. And these days with him, the love is palpable. The love is pure and endless and full of more love.
So at some point today, walk away from the interwebs, put the phone down, put the music on and dance. Let your dogs dance with you (or chase you like the crazy person you are)! And then, walk into the pantry, get the peanut butter out, smear some on your face and neck and lay on the floor with them. I PROMISE you, happiness will ensue and love will win!
On that note, we are going to take a little break. In the meantime, I’ll keep you posted on our Facebook page. As always, thanks for following along!
With much love, Tracey, Melvin & Jake.