Thursday, June 08, 2006


This is Moose, writing for Roxie, with a heavy heart. It appears that the sweetest girl who ever lived may soon be moving on to another part of "Roxie's World." She has put up a brave fight this week, but she hasn't responded at all to aggressive treatment for the violent gastrointestinal disturbance that hit her over the weekend. She hasn't eaten since Saturday and isn't even able to keep down water, though she continues to drink occasionally, even dipping her toes into our backyard pond to steal a sip or two from the fish. Our vet thinks she probably has the necrotic form of pancreatitis or tumors in her stomach. For a more certain diagnosis (but no clear outcome), we'd have to subject her to more time in the hospital, expensive tests, and a whole new battery of treatments. Given her age and pre-existing heart condition, we can't justify doing that. There just isn't enough certainty that such an intervention would restore her quality of life for enough time to warrant subjecting her to such an ordeal. We have talked to the vet about putting her down and will likely do so tomorrow, barring some miraculous improvement overnight tonight.

We still see glimmers of her joyous spirit. When Margie rang the doorbell this afternoon, she roused herself up for a semblance of the old leap-and-greet maneuver that visitors to 502 Lincoln have been subjected to for the past twelve years. Mostly, though, she sleeps, peacefully, and for that Goose and I are grateful. Her heart seems to be doing well, and her lungs are clear as bells--this despite the fact that she's been off all her heart medications since the beginning of the week. And yet we feel in our hearts that she is dying, that she is slowly pulling away from us and moving toward a space beyond physical pain and all the amazing technologies humans have invented for healing or managing it.

As Goose and I have walked through the process of this excruciating decision, we have both reflected on the deaths of our fathers--Lindy, who quietly starved to death at 60 because there was no drug, machine, or procedure that could fend off the cancer growing in his colon; Earl, who had a heart transplant at 71 and endured years of painful decline and medical ordeal before finally drifting off into oblivion at 81. My father went home on hospice care and days before he died sat down at the piano and played a glorious concert of his "greatest hits" for his family. If Goose and I are tasked with "choosing" the manner of our daughter's death, we feel we must choose one that will be more like Lindy's than Earl's. We want our sweet, strong girl to go out with her dignity and something of her spirit in tact.

What will happen to Roxie's World when Roxie has left this earthly stage? Will she continue to hold forth on politics, basketball, and the peculiar foibles of human beings from the afterlife of cyberspace? Goose thinks that she should. Moose is less certain, but I don't think so clearly with an aching heart. It could well be that Roxie will have a lot to say when she reaches her next destination and that distance will afford her still keener insights into the doings of homo sapiens. One thing is for sure. I know that she will always be with me--teaching me joy, giving me love, and urging me toward the pleasures of a 3-mile walk on a Tuesday afternoon.

May you all know such infinite pleasures.


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