Thursday, July 03, 2014

Oh my! It's July!

Arnold is lying on the floor, his back feet pressed up against mine. I think he's asleep but when I check, his eyes are wide open. He hardly sleeps now, and even then, not for very long. His eyes remain open and he breathes and he breathes.

He grows weaker by the day. About a week ago (maybe longer, I don't remember, all days blur into each other) I bought him a trolley to take him to the park with because he's too heavy for me to carry for long distances. Not that it's a long distance to the park, but I find myself staggering if I have to carry him more than a few feet.

I'm not that strong and my knees are beginning to give way. So I load him on the trolley and push it carefully over the rutted road, trundling along, trying not to jolt him too much. People look out of their houses and see me going past, a now familiar figure? Cars drive past and stare. And Arnold, who resisted the trolley at first, has grown quite used to it. He knows it will take him to the park. Where he can pee in peace. He does not like to do it in the house. His bladder, he can still control. His bowels are beyond him.

But luckily he makes firm turds, and I scoop them up with old serviettes and toss them into the toilet. And flush. I used to toss them into the dustbin until Dadda stopped me. "They smell, Jenny, don't you have any common sense?"

Apparently not. Which is why I would have to end up living alone. I would drive anyone else, anyone who hasn't known me since I was born, or more importantly, anyone who hasn't loved me since I was born, crazy.

When we get to the park (once in the morning and once after I come home from work), I lift him off the trolley and set him on the grass. If he cannot keep it in, he starts peeing then and there. If he can, he gets up and stumbles awkwardly for a few steps. And then he squats down to pee, balancing on his now useless feet...and then he falls.

Some days he can barely lift his head.

One day, I slept in Dadda's bed while Dadda slept outside cos he wanted to watch football. And Arnold slept outside too, but I heard a heavy thunk and woke up and came out. I lifted him up and he stared at me. His paws were cold. So I went back, gathered my duvet and cuddled with him on the two-seater, under my duvet. He fell asleep like that. Deeply asleep. And I stayed there, my legs curled in, with Arnold against my tummy, waiting. Until he woke up. Except that he didn't. He just slept and slept. Eventually I lifted him to the green bed and went back into the room. But I couldn't sleep.

These days, I am tired, my eyes hurt, my thoughts are fragmented and I can't sleep. Not really. Not deeply. Most days, I stay on the sofa, with Arnold (and Elliot) somewhere close by. But Arnold senses that he does not have much time left. He stays awake. He stares at me. He likes to lay his head on my feet or my hands when he knows I am going to leave.

"Stay," he seems to say. "Stay, I want to remember you. Please stay."

And I leave but I don't really. I am uneasy elsewhere, longing to be back home, if only so I can share his air, as I flit about, restless soul trying to do this, wanting to do that, writing a letter, leaning back to think, putting the letter away unfinished because I can't concentrate. Reading a book, and then deciding to stop because I don't really like the book, it's as fragmented as my thoughts and what I need is coherence, coherence, and I've finished Sir Arthur Quiller Couch and maybe I can read the rest of his stuff on Gutenberg or perhaps, Newman's Idea of a University or one of the other books he quotes so much or one of the books that Helene Hanff bought from 84 Charing Cross Road which obsesses me at the moment when little else does.

Arnold, little plaintive dog I found dying on my neighbour's doorstep with the hole in the head full of maggots, the fur all wet from a thunderstorm...lying there, weary, hungry...Arnold who crawled into my heart like a Maggot and never quite left it.

Arnold, who grows weaker every day, no longer responding to the acupuncture or the Chinese herbal medicine or the raw food diet or the attention.

If he wants to say goodbye, if he wants me to hold his little hand as he moves off into brighter fields, running, barking happily, chasing butterflies, reuniting with the mistress who left him (or died), I'll be here. I'll hold his hand. I don't do death well. I don't know how to.

I lack the patience and grace that I read about with other people. I stumble forward jerkily, say the wrong thing, in the wrong tone of voice.

Lead kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom. And lead my little doggie forward. Gently like falling into a dream. Sweetly, like a kiss from someone you love.

Lead thou him on.


Vanessa V Kilmer said...

You must have heard me thinking of you all morning.

I am still alive and just again coming to life. I have been severely depressed for the past 9 months.

I am writing to you now and will be mailing out in the next day or two.

I've only managed to wake up by telling myself, "start where you are right now and take one step."

I am so sorry about Arnold. We lost our Cody in February and I still can't stop crying.

It seems all I do lately is cry. Me, who never shed a tear for years on end and now I can't make it through a single day. I am crying, now.

Jenn said...

My dear Nessa, I'm so sorry you were severely depressed. I thought it may have been something like that and I was only praying it was not any worse. I will be writing to you too...did you get all my letters?