The Line

"HORIZON",  1997,  6' x 4', m/m

"HORIZON", 1997, 6' x 4', m/m

Olivia and I were up all night together.

She was not doing well so I called the Emergency Clinic to see if I could bring her in to be put down.

They said to wait till 10:00 am and then we could just arrive and see the doctor immediately instead of waiting.

We laid down together and took a nap at 5:oo and woke a couple hours later to her wagging her tail and looking so much better.

What IS the line, exactly? The one between the decision to end a life where suffering seems intolerable one moment then negotiable the next?

I told her to let me know somehow if the pain got too much. She was curled around my neck alot of the night which is uncommon behavior.

Was that her sign?

What if I ever get into a place where I can’t speak or communicate well enough to let those close to me know of my desires?

Do I have a line?

I used to think the bladder and bowel issues so common in MS would break me.

I’d throw in the towel.

But I didn’t. Haven’t.

I watched this Christopher Reeve documentary recently through which I grimaced because the ‘superman sheen’ that followed him even after his accident was painstakingly painted on. When, we saw him in the news clips as he championed stem cell research he looked positively radiant and I know he did have that light around him at times. In the film, for the most part he grabbed life by the back of the collar and kept working it. Until he didn’t.

Most of his days were spent not looking so pretty or polished or tan.

I sit here with this little creature dependent on me for nothing less than the privilege of one more breath.

I see her seemingly happy lying in the sun.

I grant her a reprieve.

I will listen for her language and hope she can help me know what to do next.

I sense we have not yet approached THE LINE.


2 Responses to “The Line”

  1. Marc (the Wheelchair Kamikaze) on September 8th, 2009

    Cathy, is there nothing that the veterinarians can try to save your dear Olivia? I understand that the expenses can be daunting, but our canine friends are incredibly resilient, and sometimes a little medical intervention goes a long way.

    We didn’t put Stella down until she could no longer stand, and collapsed while she was trying to pee. Perhaps we waited a little too long, but rather that than end her life prematurely. They live so in the moment, without fear of the future, and my feeling was that as long as Stella was happy in the moment, I would allow her to keep having them. She gained about three extra weeks of going to central Park and gobbling down all the turkey and chicken we could make for her.

    That said, when the moment comes, I think you’ll know. I only wish someone would afford me the same graceful exit, when my time comes. We treat their animals with more dignity than we do our fellow humans, when it comes to end a life services…

  2. Cathy on September 8th, 2009

    Olivia is doing WELL this morning!!!! My God.. I am learning so much from her.. Last night she was in that ‘labored, almost non-existent breathing, legs collapsing, eyes unfocussed and fevered’ place. My heart just wanted her to be out of pain. BUT SHE HAD OTHER PLANS! Yes, begs the question of what IS giving up too soon? Goodness, takes my breath away, I can tell you…..
    Thank you for the concern.

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