When it comes to Jake, most days I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve pretty much felt this way for three and half years.
It started off because he does not react to anything I do. He has no tail to wag, he has wiggled his body maybe ten times since I’ve met him and all of those times were for Melvin. When I dance or sing for him, he sits like a statue, almost pretending like it’s not happening. When I come home, Jake does not even get up, he looks to see what the noise is about then puts his head back down. I have no gauge of if he likes something or not. Except food, he will 100% eat anything and everything.
I know what to do for Jake, if something happens I take care of it, and there is nothing I won’t do to make his life be the best that it can be. But when it comes to most things about him, and his spine and his paralysis and now the cancer, there are a lot of grey areas and most days I just wing it. I guess it was the same with Melvin’s allergies but I think it’s different when you are solving problems versus dealing with issues there are no solutions for. (I guess even then, love is a pretty good solution).
I have to carry Jake a lot now. I am never sure I am picking him up correctly. I’ve read articles, watched videos and asked the vet(s) but there is no set way for every single thing that Jake goes through in a day that would suggest one way is the best way. Wing it.
I cook for him now, a cancer diet. There are so many theories about what they should eat when they have cancer. Then there is balancing that food brings Jake joy. The nutritionist said ‘no dog treats’, only give him fruit or veggies. I heard, give him peanut butter. But to compromise I have his peanut butter freshly ground so that he doesn’t get added sugar. Winging it.
I am a confident person. When someone compliments me, I almost always agree. If you ask me if I’m confident in my ability to care for Jake I would tell you without pause or thought, I am the best person for this job. I can know this is my purpose, and still not know what the hell I am doing.
It’s called, hoping for the best.
Although I have complete faith I can and will make Jake’s life decisions, I have no clue what spinal cancer looks like at the end. Every day is different and while I do worry and I am sad, most days we just coast. Sometimes you have to provide the light for the dark corners, even when you have no idea where the flashlight is and you are pretty sure the batteries are dead.
Even when I am hoping for the best, it is impossible to avoid thoughts about all the loss that losing Jake will bring. I’ll lose him and that heartache alone is too much to consider. I’ll lose a connection to Melvin. There will be no dogs in the house, in fact I don’t recall the last time I didn’t have a dog. I will go from taking care of a special needs dog, which takes up quite a bit of the day, to the dreaded void. I worry about how I will get through. Not that I don’t have support and love and family and friends. But more about where I will derive strength if I don’t have Melvin or Jake to care for. But those moments are short lived, becasue the moneky is still here wtih me, and our life is beautiful.
“You can’t choose the length of your life, but you can do something about the width and the depth.” (saw this on FB this week).
Melvin reminds me to seek out the joy. Find the joy in the little moments. Be a joy seeker.
In being open to joy, one day, I’m at a party and I spot my dad (who I knew would be at the party) and I go up to say hi and he says ‘wait here, I have something for you’. He returns with an article cut out of the Washington Post about a woman who makes dog diapers for her paralyzed dog. He is a not a dog person but he is a dog person for me and my boys and this non-dog person regularly cuts articles out about dogs and saves them for me. Upon delivering it to me, he tells the people around us that I am ‘a great dog mom’. He says it so proudly, so truly. And I of course think I am, I know I am, but in that moment with him and hearing him say it, it feels like everything. Everything. Like someone just served up the whole world to me. I didn’t know that I needed to hear HIM say that at that exact point-in-time but in that joy moment, Jake and I won at this life. I realized that Jake I and have already won at what’s to come. Little moments, are sometimes, the everything.
In life, it doesn’t matter if you know what you are doing. It only matters that you keep showing up to try.