“Why do you think Jesus hasn’t dropped a ton of cash on you?” someone asked in reference to how expensive cancer care is for Gonzo. The answer was easy. “Because He knows exactly where I’d spend it, whether it was needed or not.” Gonzo is getting the exact care he needs. Nothing more and nothing less.
I have always had enough. Sometimes it’s just enough, but it’s always enough. If I was given any more, right now, it would be spent on anything and everything I could find to fix Gonzo. Every scam out there would be getting all I have.
For now, the fattest cancer patient I have ever seen is doing well in all areas, except the specific one where his tumor is. That area is a foul, disgusting mess! Yet, it is an honor and privilege to get to care for him.
In early December, Gonzo began to act like the cancer had spread to his brain. He seemed to have mini-strokes and would stop, stare, lose his balance, almost fall, then come back for a bit and act normal. He would put his face in a corner like he thought he was waiting for a door to open. There was no door. Just a corner. He would stumble around like he was drunk and would have tremors like he was going through withdrawals. It was time to say, “goodbye.”
My heart felt like it was being ripped out of my chest. “God, I don’t even know what to say. Who will comfort me when my comforter is gone? What will I do when so much of my life has been given to him? What do I do when he’s gone? Thank You for showing me how to put someone else first. Thank You for all the lessons. Thank You for trusting me with someone so special.”
On December 3rd, Gonzo got to have FaceTime calls to say, “goodbye” to some of the people who love him dearly. There were a lot of tears. He was cool about it and he mostly slept, while the rest of us acted like babies.
On December 4th, Gonzo and I got to have, what seemed like a movie-ending type of day and night. It rained in December in New Hampshire. That is a miracle in itself. It meant Gonzo got to have a stress-free walk around the neighborhood with almost zero worry of encountering another dog. And more importantly, he got a natural shower!
Gonzo HAAAATES baths and showers, but he was smelling oh so horrible that it was going to have to happen. The tumor is beyond disgusting! It oozes blood and puss and, even though it smells better than it did at one point, that thing just does not smell pretty. His fur had patches of this foul concoction in it where he had licked himself and he smelled like death…until God granted him (and me) a reprieve.
We walked for over an hour in the rain exploring the neighborhood and getting a fur cleansing…without any bath trauma. It was beautiful and I was so incredibly thankful for the “crappy” weather everyone else was complaining about. God had made it rain just enough to get him cleaned up but without it being miserable for me to walk in.
That night, after the rain had stopped, Gonzo and I walked down to the beach. I sat down in the sand. Gonzo came over and sat on my left side and nuzzled right up against me. We looked out at the small waves coming in under the bright light of an almost full moon. There was a beautiful, thin line of clouds, just above the tree line on the other side of the lake. Those clouds were illuminated by the moon and seemed to glow with an ethereal light. The rest of the sky was crystal clear. Saturn (I’m guessing) sat close to the moon and was shining brightly on us, as well.
I pointed to the clouds and told Gonzo there is a beautifully amazing place beyond them he’ll be going to soon. I told him about all the people who got to hear about Jesus because of his story. I told him there’s an extra special place there for him because he was a part of making Heaven grow.
With tears streaming down my face, I told him how wonderful Jesus is and how well He’s going to take care of him until I get there. He licked the tears away, like he always does when I need a little comfort. It was such a precious moment I will always cherish.
Well, I guess Gonzo thought all of that drama was pretty stupid and decided to pull himself together. All of a sudden, he was fine. His brain was fine. Everything was fine…except that foul tumor.
After 3 days of mini-strokes, Gonzo rebounded and on the 4th day and was running sprints with me again. As I write this, it is now over a month later and we are still enjoying life and getting in little mini hikes and sprints.
Gonzo’s body and brain remain healthy, but the tumor is a whole other matter. Several months ago, I was convicted of the spiritual damage I was doing by a nickname I had given Gonzo. Words are more important than I sometimes realize and, all of a sudden, I began to feel a surge of guilt when I would call Gonzo, “Monster.”
As I watched the beast in Gonzo’s mouth grow, the Holy Spirit showed me I had given legal ground to the enemy and allowed access to my dog by calling him that. There was now a legitimate monster attached to my dog. I quickly repented and stopped with the nickname. The damage had been done and, so far, has not been reversed.
The smell is from hell. The drainage is from hell. The “murder scene” I wake up to every morning is from hell. Layers of old blankets have to be kept on the bed and peeled off and washed throughout the day to keep the smell down. At least 2 loads of Gonzo laundry are done each day. It sure is a good thing I’m single!
There is an almost constant string of drool consisting of blood and puss hanging from Gonzo’s mouth. My roommates and I spend most of the day chasing him around with a tissue and cleaning up wherever his drainage has landed. We sometimes find pieces of the tumor have detached, looking like tiny livers.
My roommates/landlords have been so gracious and patient in all of this, but their patience has worn thin and we will have to find another place to live beginning March 1st.
So, should I kill Gonzo because of all of that? Some people might think so. I have been surprised to find how easy it is for people, who barely know me, to ask if I plan on euthanizing my dog.
No! Is that something you actually plan…well in advance?
I have found that some people think you should. What has happened that society believes you are always supposed to decide when your dog dies? Will we get to a point where it’s okay to ask when someone plans on putting grandma down?
In this death culture, I have to wonder if widespread pet euthanasia is being used to condition us to be numb to the taking of any life. I do understand the need in some cases, but find it so odd that vets will so quickly suggest it even while your dog is right there, happily sniffing around the exam room, hoping to find a treat, and wagging his tail in delight.
There is honor in caring for a life through hard times and tough circumstances. There are lessons learned and strength gained through the trials, struggles, and suffering that we go through during life. Could it be that there are lessons learned and strength gained in caring for the suffering at the end of their lives? Why should I get to play God and decide when my dog is “suffering” too much?
The fact is, in this current situation, I am “suffering” more than he is. He is still enjoying life, but doing so with something gross attached to his face that can’t feel good…or taste good.
Yet, in my “suffering,” I have found it an honor and privilege to care for and comfort the friend who has protected me on so many occasions, who has given me so much joy and laughter, who understands me better than any human, who has comforted me in my darkest hours, who has never abandoned me, and who has loved me unconditionally. (Although, he does snort haughtily sometimes when he does not get his way.)
In these final months, I have the opportunity to give so much back to one who has made my life so much better over the years. I thank him for giving me the opportunity to care for him in the grossness. I thank him that he is teaching me how to put someone else’s needs first. I thank him that I am learning amazing lessons in sacrifice. And I thank him that I get to store up treasures in Heaven based on how I treat him here on earth.