30 minute practice/ 30 minute writing/ 30 days
Last week our dear old dog, Sarah disappeared, fifteen years and she never left longer than a stroll up and down the village road. When she didn’t show up we knew something was down. The something we wanted to believe was that dear old Sarah disappeared into the bush to make a peaceful passage; Mama earth reclaiming our longest living dog (15 years, exceptionally old for a dog of the village). Then on the third evening Theo says Sarah’s not dead she’s down by the road under the Beffie tree. And there she was broken, defeated old Sarah, an inch of a wag of her tail, a brown eyed stare of relief, death flies hovering after laying their larvae on her wounds. Oh dear old tender hearted Sarah what happened, what happened?
We carry her up on an old blanket and place her in her favorite corner of the verandah. She crashes into sleep, we imagine she has spent these days lost in possible old age confusion with little sleep trying to find her way home. Her family: Opi, her son; Willow and Safi her two cats and me Maya and Theo pay homage to this old girl whose story for the past two days we will never know.
We call the vet for the next morning. We find her early morning under the pawpaw tree. She managed to crawl down the steps and back into the arms of Mother nature. She manages another inch of a wag and a weak attempted bark at neighbor Yvonne’s dogs. Vet arrives. Theo leaves. Maya and I stay to accompany her on her journey. The vet misses a vein and decides to go for the heart. Sarah nips him. Maya and i hold her head under a blanket so she cannot strike again and then the two of us fighting to get the blanket off her head, so Sarah could take her last breath (i realize how ironic that is now). I guess we want her to know we are with her and not intentionally suffocating her. Maya and i weep. i think the vet is shook by two weeping women, perhaps that contributes to his inability to pierce a vein, resulting in a frantic stab to the heart with the second dose. It all feels too violent for such a peaceful dog.
The vet and i have a tender moment. He washes out the tiny puncture on his arm, asking me if Sara has had a rabies shot. She did. I place onto the vet’s wound a piece of toilet paper doused in antiseptic and hold for a few seconds. I can feel his gratitude in the silence we share. It was a moment.
If only death could be so easy, so graceful as walking into the bush and letting Mama Earth swallow us whole, returning us to the very source that gives Life. I think of my dear old Dad and wish too, his death was a more romanticized version as the one we had hoped for Sarah and then again we have so much to learn from those who travel before us as they grasp to life vigorously, stoically before bowing down to the one thing we know for certain, death.