Updated: Jun 24
Gonzo and I walked outside into the darkness for one last potty break before bed the night before his surgery. As I walked along the gravel path with my favorite, little friend, not knowing what the next day would bring, I looked up at the sky and prayed. “God, he’s in Your hands.” was the best I could do.
Immediately, hundreds of fireflies lit up the trees, bushes and flowers! I hadn’t seen a single one before that prayer, but all of a sudden they were dancing and lighting up all around us. It was like nothing I had ever seen.
I love fireflies (how can you not?) and had wondered how Heaven could have no night time. That meant there would be no fireflies there. Well, they might be there, but without night, how would you see their butts shine?
I had imagined that maybe there was a section of Heaven where all the amazing night time treasures, like stars, moons, auroras, and fireflies might exist. I imagined there would be hundreds of fireflies there instead of the normal glimpse of one or two that blink every few minutes.
THIS was what I had imagined!! This was firefly Heaven!!
There were so many little lightning bugs showing off all at once that I couldn’t keep up with them! They were in the grass, the apple orchard, the flower gardens, the forest, and some were even brave enough to come right up to us and bless us with a little burst of light.
They were everywhere and I just melted! My heart melted. Tears of gratitude began flowing and Gonzo and I just sat there taking in all the miraculous tiny lights exploding all around us.
I don’t know how long we were out there. I couldn’t leave this amazing vision. How do you step away from something so unbelievably incredible?
Rain. Rain would be the answer. So, as it began to fall, Gonzo and I left our beautiful field of fireflies.
What did we witness? Was that just a blessing of beauty because I released control I never had to begin with? Was it God’s way of letting me know that whatever happens, He’s in it and it is good? I’d like to think so.
Gonzo and I went to the vet the next morning and I got to take him in…without a mask! They relaxed their rule!!! WOO HOO!! WIN!
I relinquished my favorite guy into their care, hoping they would love him even a quarter of how much I do.
Gonzo made it through his surgery and the vet was great about letting a worried mom know her son had done well. She said they got as much of the growth as they could and would know in a week or two if they had gotten everything and would know what the growth was made of.
I couldn’t wait to pick Gonzo up from the vet! I was so excited to see him! The feeling was remarkedly NOT mutual for him.
I can’t remember a time when Gonzo didn’t look excited to see me. As Gonzo exited the vet and was led toward me, he just glared at me. Head down, with a look of hurt and betrayal, his face said, “How could you let them do this to me? How could you leave me and let them cut me up? I trusted you!”
On the way home, Gonzo sat in the passenger seat with his back to me…THE…WHOLE…WAY. There was no consoling him. There was no explaining to him. There were no concessions by him. I had betrayed him. He had never known betrayal by me. I had never let anyone hurt him. I had always fixed the hurts and this time he thought I maliciously inflicted it.
My heart was breaking! How could he know that something toxic had to be removed and he had to go through a lot of pain before healing could begin? How could he know the sacrifices I made to pay for him to be able to heal?
I wonder if God’s heart breaks the same way mine did when He painfully removes something or someone toxic from our lives and we glare at Him resentfully. Does it break when we blame Him for the pain of the surgery, not realizing the toxic thing being removed was killing us? Does it break when we can’t even begin to grasp the sacrifice He made so that we can be healed?
(No, I am not comparing myself to God. Gonzo just teaches me lessons about Him all the time, like this one.)
Gonzo had a ruff couple of days of not understanding why his head was so loopy and why his mouth was hurting…and how I could have allowed all of that.
On the third day, he forgave me and began to set paw on the path to being a happy, loving, smart, intuitive Gonzo again. On the fourth day, he was ready to start running with me again.
It was no marathon at just under a mile, but running is Gonzo’s favorite thing in life. It’s not mine, but I’m learning to love it for him…because my world revolves mostly around this wonderful dog.
In the nights during the week after Gonzo’s surgery, the lightening bugs had returned to their normal activity. There were still quite a few showing off at night, but nothing like what Gonzo and I had witnessed the night before his surgery.
Aside from making sure Gonzo’s food was soft and squishy, our life had returned to normal…until Thursday, June 16, 2022.
Eight days after his surgery, I woke up to a dog trying to get as close to me as he possibly could. It was like he was trying to cuddle or hug me, but I’m usually the one annoying him with needy cuddles. He had to be right by my side all morning and it made me seriously consider calling out of work.
Exactly how would I ask that, though. “Can I stay home from work today? My dog needs to be cuddled. It’s an emergency!”
I went to work and the vet called me around 4pm with the biopsy results. “It’s not good.”
Malignant melanoma…aggressive…mitotic count 9….probably already spread to other organs, lymph nodes, and lungs….median life span for this type is 147 days…less than 5 months.
Tears immediately began to fall onto my desk as I listened to more words like “chemo” and “oncologist” and “DNA sequencing” and was told “time is of the essence in deciding what you want to do.”
All of a sudden, time is of the essence??? When I first brought him to the vet back in February, it sure didn’t seem to be.
My gut feeling, when Gonzo pointed out the thing in his mouth, was that it was cancer. Time was of the essence for ME then, so I immediately made an appointment.
My fears were allayed when the vet seemed to think it might be a gum or tooth infection and scheduled surgery for 4 months later. However, NOW they say time is of the essence. Mitotic count of 9 out of 10 and we had already waited 4 months, but NOW it was up to me to quickly decide how to proceed.
My gut said it was cancer when I had seen the thing rapidly grow and asked the vet to see him again in May. When they saw how much it had grown, they were also thinking along the same line as my gut felt and Gonzo was put on the waiting list for surgery. There was never an opening, though.
My gut said to start him on some anti-parasitics that had been shown to cure and prevent cancer and I did so beginning on May 13th, just a few weeks before his surgery. I also added turmeric and other anti-cancer supplements, after doing some research.
Here’s a hint as to what some of what I’ve been doing: https://youtu.be/nQF25nPIahk
As the vet spoke of chemo and decisions of that nature, my gut said, “No!”
It’s a confusing time when the life of your very best friend is potentially in your hands and, if you make the wrong decision, he could lose it. Since either way is taking a chance, I’m going with my gut. I will continue on the path the government and big pharma have tried to hide from us. If it works, I will be thrilled! If it doesn’t, my favorite guy still didn’t have to suffer through chemo.
Gonzo is really more than my best friend. When Matt said he was leaving, I think the first thing I said was, “I’m keeping Gonzo.” If it wasn’t the first thing, it was a close second.
Since then, Gonzo has been my little, furry rock. I could not have made it through the past 5.5 years without him and he has licked so many of my tears…tears that I now hope weren’t carcinogenic. He is in sync with me and I am with him. We both know each other so well and I’ve never had a better comforter or friend in the physical realm.
When I got home, after hearing the news, I was greeted with Gonzo’s big smile and his ritual happy dance. I love coming home to that! I am so blessed to get to come home to that!
I figured I would reward him for being alive by taking him on his favorite type of excursion. We went for a 1.5 mile run in the New Hampshire forest. Not only did he get to run, but he also got to aggressively chase chipmunks and work on his hunting skills…two of his favorite things.
(Post Run Pics)
My dog sure didn’t look sick on our run. He might have been a little slower, but he kept up and looked so happy. In fact, other than the cancer, Gonzo is in amazing health!!! I wonder if he would be in perfect health if I had never let him get any rabies shots.
(By the way, too little too late for Gonzo, but apparently you can ask your vet for a titer test, in lieu of a rabies booster, to see if your pet still has enough antibodies from their first shot…unless you live in Florida. I guess titer tests are illegal there. Quite the win for big pharma in Florida. I think maybe I sound bitter.)
That night, Gonzo and I went for his late-night, potty break before bed. Guess what we were greeted with!
Hundreds of fireflies were out again, like the night before his surgery…only better. The lightening bugs were lighting up the forest like they were having some kind of bug concert and the slow love song was playing so everyone was holding up their lighters. Everything surrounding us was sparkling.
I’ve never seen anything like it!! Hundreds of flickering lights in the forest trees and outlining the tree-tops. I can’t remember ever seeing fireflies light up so high in the trees and sky. I’ve always seen them closer to the earth, but this was incredible. Hundreds of fireflies danced all around us and even buzzed past us. A fly by shining?
Once again, I was captivated by the beauty surrounding us. “God, You are so good to me!” I was so thankful that we got to witness something so phenomenal. It felt like the fireflies were cheering us on and clapping with their little butt lights.
I couldn’t move. Mesmerized by the splendor,. I couldn’t just walk away from this. So, it began to rain, once again, letting me know it was time to go. The show was over.
As I write this, two doves just stopped by my window and peeked in. I have to believe it's a sign of a blessing of peace.
I don’t know what’s next. I do know life is so beautiful, even when it hurts. I don’t know what else to say, so I will end with my last prayer journal entry:
Thank You for the biopsy results – aggressive malignant melanoma – mitotic count 9 out of 10. Thank You that the vet said it has probably already spread to his organs, lungs, and lymph nodes. Thank You that You are good!
Thank you that I can trust You in this pain that even this is good. Thank You that You give and You take away and that , when You do, the timing of both is perfect. Thank You that You gave me this wonderful friend when I needed him most.
Thank You that You sent me this angel to comfort me and lick my tears during some of the most heartbreaking events in my life. Thank you for all the lessons You have taught me about You, through getting to care for and protect Your little creature.
Thank You for letting me have one constant in an ever-changing, crazy life. Thank You for letting me feel so loved when I come home and am greeted by his happy dance.
Thank You for an adventure buddy who sometimes thinks our adventures are dumb. Thank You for this friend who always knows how to make me smile and who seems to just want to please me. Thank You for trusting me to care for one of Your smartest, sweetest creatures ever made!
And thank You that You have given me options other than chemo to try. I pray that they work, but even if they don’t, thank You that he will not have to suffer because of them.
I trust You! If it’s time for my best friend to go, I know You have good reasons and I know that every time You take something away, You replace it with something better or remove it to open the doors it was blocking. I also understand why You would want him back. He’s pretty great!
Thank You for letting me borrow him for almost 10 years and thank You for giving me the chance to say, “Goodbye.” I pray it’s a very long goodbye.
I love You!
In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
PS – Thank You for giving me the best dog in the world!