On regret

My life has been kind of a shitshow lately. I don’t really talk about it publically. Besides, it’s small potatoes compared to the actual trauma some people around the world deal with. So whatevs.

But I got a sympathy card in the mail today from our vet, Clairmont Animal Hospital. It contained handwritten notes from Dr. Smith, our vet tech Joyce and a few of the other staff expressing their sadness for the loss of our beloved nut job, Roxy. It was so thoughtful.

That was the proverbial straw. I always fall apart when people show kindness—to me or anyone—and this did me in.

Roxy started acting strange around two months ago. Normally an insane bundle of jumping, barking, tail-wagging happiness, she was more sedate. She didn’t get excited about going for a run, and when we did run together, she lagged behind. I wrote it off to the heat.

Then she started limping off and on, and yelping if she moved the wrong way. She had torn her left ACL last year, so we thought she had now torn the right. “Crazy dog,” we said, and started doing the math in our heads, lamenting the cost of another surgery.

But it got worse–fast. I took her to the vet and they couldn’t find anything wrong. Long awful story short: two weeks, three different vets, many pain pills, X-rays and an MRI later, we found out she had bone cancer. We asked how much time she had. “None,” they said. Our hearts broken, we released her from her pain. She was four years old.

That was almost two weeks ago, and saying I miss her is a massive understatement. I keep thinking about all the signs that she didn’t feel well that I wrote off, or was too busy to think about at the moment. That tears me up. She had to be in a tremendous amount of pain. And the grace and strength she showed that last month just flattens me.

The very worst thing, though, is I remember so clearly the last time Roxy tried to get me to play. Her modus operandi was she’d find a sock, or hat, or something she wasn’t supposed to have. She’d come to me with a sparkle in her eye and a wag in her tail, showing it to me, taunting me to chase her. And around the house we’d go, me mock yelling, “Gimme that sock!” Her pretending to let me get it just before taking off again. It was her favorite game.  That day, I know she hadn’t been feeling well, and somehow she pulled herself together enough to bring me a sock and entice me to chase her. I was working, though, and brushed her off, saying, “Later, Rox.”

There wasn’t a later. She never asked me to play again. And I didn’t even realize it until she was gone. You can’t imagine how that hurts.

How often do we say “later” or “not now” or “I’ll do it tomorrow?” There is no tomorrow. Don’t buy into that “there’s always tomorrow” bullshit. Because there isn’t.

The next time someone you love asks you to grab coffee, read a book, go for a walk, look at their picture, talk, chase them around the house, or whatever, do it. Do it. Nothing is more important. Nothing. Because there is no guarantee that there will be a later.

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3 thoughts on “On regret

  1. Suzanne Kosmerl Post author

    By the way, this is not an indictment of Clairmont Animal Hospital. Dr. Smith did all he could, and went out of his way to treat Roxy. They are nothing but kind, compassionate and thorough. When we are ready for our next dog, he will be our vet again.

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  2. Eileen Cargell

    I am in tears. I have never known a greater heartbreak than a loss of a beloved pet. There are no words to ease the pain; no amount of time that passes to keep you from wishing you could have more time with them; no day that goes by without thinking I should’ve done (fill in the blank) more with them. I don’t know if people who’ve never owned a pet can understand this, but I’ve lost friends and family and still the loss of my four-legged, furry companions is so different. ..just rip your heart out, to your core kind of pain and longing. A pet’s love is so simple and pure…it just feels like you’ve lost a piece of yourself. For all our imperfections, you are always perfect in their eyes. What human ever views you that way for their whole life?
    I loved this Suzanne. Thank you for sharing. It goes without saying that while Roxy’s time with you was far too short, she clearly was loved and one blessed dog to be a part of your beautiful (albeit imperfect) family. We humans don’t have that perfection thing down quite yet. But if we’re very, very lucky, we get to have a Roxy…or Buster…or pets like them in our lives and we can try to live for the moment, love with abandon, and know that they brought us riches greater than we seem to deserve. I’m so very sorry for your loss my friend. ♡

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