Life Without Regret

18 05 2011

It took me a couple of days to decide to write about this.  Because I have more questions than answers now, and more fear than facts.  But since this blog is, in name, dedicated to my dog, I feel like there is a big, silent elephant sitting in my blog’s living room right now.  So I’m writing about another adventure Charlie and I are having together, one that is still very much uncharted, and one I really wasn’t planning on starting right now.

Charlie exploring the BLM land last week

If I were to make a list of regrets, it would be a long one.  Mostly filled with petty retractions, it would also include a few biggies.  Oh, it would look a lot like anyone’s, I think: too much debt, too little travel, things said that should have been left unsaid, things left unsaid that should have been spoken, a kindness to someone else not done here, a kindness done to me left unthanked there, unintentional but careless stabs at people’s feelings, the time I simply wasn’t paying attention and drove into the back of someone’s car, impatience at kids…  A million details that, given the chance, I might change.

On Monday, Jason and I sat on a cushioned bench in an exam room at the vet’s office.  Charlie, having climbed behind us, clawed at the door, sat on my lap, and shed an entire season’s worth of hair, finally lay calm but alert on the linoleum beneath the exam table.

The vet said a lot of things that we already knew.  At 13, a seizure could be due to an infection, despite no fever and no other symptoms.  It could be very-late-onset epilepsy.  It could be thyroid, again with no other symptoms.  Could be.  Could be.

But probably not.

It was the probably not that was in my mind the moment I had heard Charlie drop to the floor Sunday evening.  He recovered quickly from a seizure that last less than a minute, but I wasn’t surprised at what the vet was now intimating.

Charlie, it turns out, is old.  And that means his probablys aren’t very good.  His probablys are cancer or aneurysm.  It is by no means a certainty, though since Monday, lab results have further lowered the odds of infection or other relatively benign causes for the seizure.  And even if it is what it probably is, there is no way to know how long Charlie might continue to live a fairly healthy life.  No reason, now, to begin grieving.  His time might be measured in months or even years – really, the same prognosis of any 13-year-old dog.

It does make me think about regret, though.  Because if I have done one thing right in my life, it’s the way I have treated my dog.  Because if there is one creature in the world that I have loved unconditionally, and always put before myself, and tried to bring happiness to again and again simply to see his look of pure joy, it is that damn dog.  No regrets.  Not for money spent on daycare and hours spent at the dog park and money spent on food and leashes and treats and days at the beach and runs at river and “No I can’t go out right now, I have to go walk my dog” and camping trips and quiet evenings on the couch that is completely covered in dog hair and dog hair in my cupboards and the organic egg yolks I give him each morning cholesterol be damned…  No regrets.

In the hour and a half that we spent at the vet, in the time it took to confirm that my life is shifting in some new direction, the weather changed.  The rain, sleet, and hail, the grayish purple sky, the chilly wind had disappeared.  The late afternoon sun shone on the wet pavement and spring-scented steam rose up all around the city, as the light reflected blindingly off every rain-soaked surface.  The sky was perfectly blue, ringed in clouds, but above us, just a perfect May blue.  The air warmed surprisingly fast, and the wind was now a breeze.

I put Charlie’s leash on him and we headed out for our daily walk.  Ready or not, our next big adventure is here.  And we’re on it together.




One response

19 05 2011
Lisa Ard

Ah Jill…a new journey, perhaps not one sought, but a journey nonetheless. Best wishes to you and Charlie.

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