Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eulogy for Jennifer: Goodbye to a Baby...

Everybody thinks their dog is special from the rest of the canine world.

And the thing is, they’re all correct.

And just like every well-loved dog, Jennifer was special to us from the rest of them. In fact, canine or what, Malou and i never really considered Jennifer and the rest of her cohorts as pets. But yes, clichéd as it may sound, they were our children.

She was born last September of 2001. The last child of their line, before Malou and i decided that it was time to neuter the males to stop them from turning our little home (a.k.a. 39 sq.m. apartment) into a veritable farm. A huge batch of poisonous Pedigree dog food later, the tragic passing of Soda, Joey, JM, Marge (yes, there was Marge the poodle, before Marge the baby), and Joni, it was now Jennifer’s turn to throw in the towel... with only their 12-year old father, Stolich to survive them...
"...That space in our hearts we saved for Margaret, [Jennifer] tried to fill in every way that she could..."
Jennifer was extra special to me, because she was the only one who was born after Malou and I were married. Thus, she was the one i came home to from the moment she saw the light of day, to that one wistful moment when i can only wish i can imagine her smiling at us one last time, thanking us for the love, and the life she lived with us. We referred to her as “Baby Jennifer,” because while all of them were our children, of them all she was our baby.

In those drifty years between declaring that our honeymoon was over, and the happy-weepy day that brought us Margaret, Jennifer was unabashedly the star among our 4-legged children. She knew it, acted it, and demanded of us and our time the way she knew she had a right to. A baby in practically every sense of the word. That space in our hearts we saved for Margaret, she tried to fill in every way that she could. We knew it, felt it, and somehow she knew that we knew.

* * * * * * *

One day, I had a lump in my throat since i woke up... The smell of Jennifer's breath and discharge, which were indicative of what truly bad shape what was left of her kidneys were in, were smelling sharper than ever... She had suddenly already started vomiting, and refused to eat... I knew it wasn't going to be much longer...

Malou and Marge brought Jennifer and the others to the Makati Dog & Cat Hospital hoping that grooming and some dental work might take some pain off her and get her eating again. But her body's breakdown was already accelerating at a pace we never saw before. When we went to visit Jennifer on the morning of Vergil's wedding, she had already pee-ed on herself, and her weakened jaw totally gave during tooth extraction.

She was in bad shape. A mere shadow of her once-beautiful and zest-filled self. And she made no qualms about showing us her discomfort. She didn’t even bother acknowledging our presence.

Seeing her broke Malou’s and my heart so bad...

And we made one of the most painful decisions we ever made together and gave Jennifer the gift of taking away her pain, ending her suffering, and setting her free while the memories of her beautiful life were still fresh enough to be among her final thoughts.

"...A decision like the one we just made for
someone we hold so dear is usually filled with
maybes..."

I did notice that when Dr. Binogon came in with the blue syringe, Jennifer held her head high in that proud, beautiful way she always did in her prime. As though wanting to walk into the coming darkness with her soul as proud and beautiful as it had been in life on the earth that we know.

Then she peacefully set her head down and closed her eyes one final time.

The day was January 20, 2010.

* * * * * * *

The thing about moments like these is that one is almost always left to imagine whatever it is the dog is feeling and/or thinking. We like to imagine that maybe they’re quietly saying goodbye. We choose to not consider thinking that maybe they were wordlessly begging for one last chance to see the sun and breathe the air. But there does come that time when we guess in our hearts that maybe there are ways they wouldn’t choose to live. A decision like the one we just made for someone we hold so dear is usually filled with maybes.

But we know we did the kindest thing she would have wanted. And there will never be a “maybe” for how much we will always love her.

Not too long ago, when one of Jennifer’s older siblings passed away also from complications of renal failure, i asked Malou through misty eyes futilely, pointlessly, heartbrokenly, almost stupidly... why they (our four-legged children) always went before we did...

And in her matter-of-fact way of wisdom, she replied: “...because if we went before they did, then no one would take care of them.”

Strangely undeniable and oddly comforting. Malou always had a knack for things like that. Still hurts though... and Jennifer will always be a testament to how someone so small could leave a void so big.

‘catch you later...

2 comments:

LCB said...

Jasper,

If "all dogs go to heaven," then I must claim that all genuine dog-lovers must go there too to be with them again someday.

I couldn't hold my tears as I read this. Because I too am a "lover" of my dog. Yes, they are man's best friend,and it's only appropriate to make them an equal of the family.

I had to hug my Oscar after reading this, just to show him how much I appreciate the love and faithfulness he has given me all these years - faithfulness inherent in all dogs.

Thank you for reminding me thru this post that "a man and his dog together, can conquer the world!"

I salute Jennifer for her love.

And, if all dog-owners were just like you and your family, then our world could be a better place to live in.

Les

Jasper Greek Lao Golangco said...

Hi, Sir Les...

Thanks so much for your kind words. it is an honor to be among dog-lovers such as yourself...

and yes, if people could only learn to love the way our dogs do, then perhaps the world will be a better place...

maraming salamat sa pakikiramay, sir...

jasper