One year ago today I woke up without Lucas at my side. One year ago, yesterday, I had taken him to Gainesville Florida, to the University of Florida’s Small Animal Hospital, even if he wasn’t very small, and they were to be my last, and only, hope to have the cancer cut off of his jaw. Another vet in Jacksonville had given Lucas six months to live, at the most, before the pain because more than either of us could bear.
A very good and close friend of mine told me that I could not undertake this endeavor. It meant financial ruin. It might mean bankruptcy. It mean that I would not be able to spend a dime more than I had to for a very long time. For the foreseeable and for the un-seeable future, I was going to be very poor. Lucas might die anyway. The chances of success were not perfect or true.
I told her the price for not trying to save Lucas was more than I could pay. I think I said something to the effect, “I cannot stand idle and watch him die slowly. It is too great of a cost and I cannot bear it.”
It’s what you can bear.
They had to call me during the operation to tell me it was worse than they thought, that they would have to take off more of his jaw and three more of his teeth. I was stunned by at that point, what of it? I had already committed the money and my soul. Live or die, health or hell, the decision to save Lucas had already been made on my end. It would be up to the skill of the surgeon what happened next. All I could do is sit and wait.
The whole scene had been surreal, my personal vet, who is a friend, called me, and asked me if I had gotten the biopsy report via email and I had. She went through it with me but none of it sounded good and then she started crying. I asked her how long Lucas had to live and she told me that the very in Jacksonville had said, “Six months”. I remember thinking that Lucas would be dead before his next birthday, and that he would miss Lilith’s birthday and Sam’s. I went home and we lay on the bed together and everyone was so happy and content.
A week went by with me reading and doing research and pretty much just poking around. Finally, I called my vet and told her Lucas wasn’t going to die. I wasn’t going to let my dog die. We, she and I, were going to find someone who would try. Suddenly, Lucas and I were in Gainesville Florida and it was the 4th of November. A man with a British accent was saying he could save Lucas but we would have to cut here, and here, and there. He had a passel of bright eyed students with him and some of them looked grim as hell. He paused and asked me what I wanted to do and I asked him when he could do it. Some of the students looked up, surprised, more and one or two smiled, and the Brit just nodded and said, “We could do it tomorrow.”
I told them,” Okay, let’s do it” and a very pretty young woman took the end of the leash and she led Lucas away from me. For the first time in four years Lucas was going to spend the night away from home and his pack. The surgery did not go well. Lucas was bleeding. The next day they called me and told me they had to keep him. He refused to eat, he wouldn’t pee when they walked him, he wasn’t responding to anything they were trying to get him to do. The next day looked no different and the third day they called and told me Lucas was shutting down. I told them I was coming to get my dog.
Lucas looked like he was in a state of shock. He looked dazed and medicated. The two hour drive back to the house was hellish because I had to keep one hand under his chin at all time. He was still oozing blood, but if I moved my hand he tried to stand up and move over next to me while I was driving. Lucas wanted contact, He had to feel me to know I was really there.
Lucas didn’t act like he was really alive until we turned into the driveway. He sat up and looked around, as if suddenly, yes, there it is, my home, I am home. Lilith was screaming. She leapt up on the back door without stopping her yelping. I let her in, let them snuffle one another, but Sam growled at Lucas, as if the smell had changed. When I let them into the backyard I had to keep Lilith from trying to play with Lucas. My Loki Mutt, peed. He peed for a good long time then we went and took a dump. We came back inside and I fed him and the others, then we took a nap, all four of us, on the bed, with Lucas bleeding on my shoulder.
My dog was home.
And one year later, Lucas is still here.