I returned on the 2nd but I had a boatload of work piled up when I got back. I finally waded through and gave myself a couple of days off to just kind of sit back and take in what's happened since my return from my stay on the moon.
First order of "business" was the gentle passing of my old dog, Chai. She had been in diapers for the last, well, year and I had been postponing the inevitable by not setting her free. She was completely blind, almost completely deaf, had pretty bad doggy-dementia, could not control her bowels or bladder, and was not even able to stand up for very long without slipping and falling. I had been thinking about letting her go for a while but I just... well I didn't want to do it. Despite her constant awful smell, the fact that she NEVER wanted to cuddle anymore, and the complete non-existence of any kind of quality of life I felt like I could just keep putting diapers on her and getting her out from beneath chairs (she got "stuck" under them) for the next two or three years until she finally did not wake up one day.
When I took her to the vet and told her what I'd hoped for, she told me that they hardly ever just go to sleep and don't wake up. She reassured me that what I was doing was the right thing. My good friend Kenya was with me along with both my mom and my dad. I also took three Xanax before I went over there because I knew that if I wasn't completely sloshed I wasn't going to be able to let them take her from me. That's how it felt... like someone was wresting her from my motherly grasp. But, when it all came down to brass tacks and her quality of life was called into question, we all decided that she had none whatsoever. So I permitted the doctor to sedate her and then to let her pass on. I hovered over her the entire time, my hand on her head and then on her chest as they gave her the overdose of anesthesia that is used to humanely let them pass into the Aether. I felt her final breath very slowly leave her body. Then the doctor listened as her heart slowed to a stop. She took off her stethoscope and said "She's gone...". I kissed her on the head and then on her dry little nose. Everyone else said their goodbye's to her as well and, right before we left, I gave her head and nose a final kiss each. I told her how much I loved her... Gods, I'm tearing up even as I write this... and we left her. She will be cremated and I will keep her here with me forever.
I cried a lot. I couldn't even go into my art studio for a few days following her passing because that was the last place she had lived. Now her bed has been replaced with a couch and I can finally start going through my boxes and setting up my life in there.
I'm just glad that Chai is no longer suffering. The hardest part about all of this was knowing that I had to say goodbye and knowing that it was indeed the right time for this to happen. The vet had said that Chai had hung on a LOT longer than she had anticipated. I feel like she hung on a little too long because I was too afraid to let her go. Justin was not present at her passing because he doesn't deal with death well at all and he opted to go to work instead. A card came in the mail a few days later-- it was from the veterinary office, sympathising with our loss. I told him about it and he very quickly and firmly told me not to read it aloud. I read it to myself and cried.