April 8, 2014 will remain etched in my memory for all eternity. I knew it was the day I was going to say goodbye to my soul mate, my best friend, Shelby.
I went over the vet (ER) where I was prepared to battle to stay since they wouldn’t release her to me for safety reasons. But her favorite nurses were there and they put me in a room. The doctor on-call came to speak with me and I explained I had plans to transport Shelby that afternoon to the beach by my house to let her transition peacefully. She asked me if I wanted to spend the day with Shelby in the room so that was easy. They brought lots of beds in (for her and me). I had snacks with me (they did offer to order me food if I wanted it) and we made it a doggy-hospice. They brought me my girl, who was heavily sedated due to another a.m. seizure but assured me she was comfortable and in no pain and we could wait the day.
So on the floor I went. I layed on Shelby. I smothered her with my love and my embrace and I talked to her. At one point, I put my head down next to her, held her paw and read my book. Time stood still and yet it moved so quickly. Her oncologist came to check on her and say goodbye. We cried together. She told me she couldn’t have seen this coming (the brain bleed) – it is so incredibly rare for them to get it in the brain too and up until it was too late, Shelby had no symptoms of brain issues. A fighter until the very end!
At one point, Shelby’s breathing slowed so much and she was quiet and I freaked out – was I too late? But the nurse assured me that she was in such a deep and comfortable, safe sleep that her breathing slowed. We woke her up (she was pissed for sure) but I wanted to see her face. When I went to eat some baby carrots, she kind of cocked her head/ears in my direction (she was no longer able to lift her own head) so I grabbed her some baby food and she lapped it up. And water. My best friend showed up to sit with us and help me transport Shelby. There was no way she could travel without being held – there was no way she would ever come home; all day, I knew this in my mind but my heart wouldn’t believe it.
The kindness extended to me from ACC (advanced critical care) was like nothing else. I am forever grateful for them allowing us to spend our last day together. They could see our bond was like none other and that I would have done and had done everything for Shelby.
As we drove to the beach, I cradled my girl in my arms. My best friend carried her to a grassy spot in the shade and we set her down. Within seconds, her breathing calmed to a level I hadn’t seen in a long time. She could smell the fresh air, the ocean breeze, the grass… she was in her element. Our favorite thing was to just be outside … getting fresh air. Our LA life allowed us this luxury more often than not. We were there about 1/2 hour before the service that was going to help Shelby transition showed up. They were so kind. They told me how pretty she was. How sweet she was. But they could tell it was her time. They didn’t rush me but I didn’t want to belabor this. I took my girl into my arms and I whispered in her ear “see Shelby, mommy told you she would ALWAYS be there for you and I have made good on my promise”. I kissed her. I told her that I loved her. I told her I was proud of her. And I told her it was OK to go. It was over pretty quickly and I held her in my arms. I looked into her eyes the entire time. She was never alone.
Yesterday was one of the most painful days of my life. It would have been so easy for me to have just said goodbye over the weekend but I wanted to honor Shelby’s dignity. I didn’t want her (if could be avoided) to die in a sterile hospital room. I wanted her to be where she loved the most. And I wanted to be there with her. But it was definitely time. She declined so quickly, no longer able to walk, lift her head, open her eyes… there was nothing there. It was the absolute right decision but the hardest thing I have ever done. I am in shock. I am grief-stricken and while the rational part of me knows that this is part of the process and the incredible pain I feel now is testament to the love and bond that we had. She was and remains my soul mate.
My apt is empty. Yet it still smells like her. Her toys from yesterday, smell like her. My clothes from yesterday smell like her. I can still feel her here. Thank you to the Tripawds for allowing me to share her journey with you. Thank you for embracing us as a member of your family. It is your love and support that will help me heal until I see her again.
Like I have said, I have been a mom for 13 years. It feels weird not to have anywhere to be, anyone to feed or walk. I don’t know what to do with that kind of freedom. It scares me. What I wouldn’t give for one last kiss, one last snuggle, one last ‘selfie’. The hardest part is that my phone is FILLED with photos of my girl. My apt has tons of frames. Her basket of toys is staring at me. I need to explain to our housekeeper why Shelby is gone. There are people in our neighborhood who have seen us walking that will wonder and ask. But right now, I am going through the motions of existing. I am eating because I am told to. I am going where I need to go on a schedule. I can’t make any decisions for me right now. I am a zombie.
So I leave this blog post with some photos of Shelby’s last hours … because while they aren’t the Shelby I want to remember, they are part of Shelby’s story. My hope that that I can continue to use this blog to remember the wonderful things about Shelby – to continue to always celebrate her life. Because Shelby would want happy memories. She hated tears. They made her uncomfortable. So for Shelby, I will try celebrate her amazing life. And amazing it was … She was so strong. I have spoken to her today but I am sure she’s super busy playing with all the other puppies (like she was known to do and ignore her mama) but she will send me a sign that she’s still with me. So loved .. that girl. So loved.
Shelby Lynne – October 15 2000 to April 8, 2014. #shelbystrong