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Column: Saying the inevitable goodbye

'Although no words were exchanged between us, I understood. He was dying.'

"I slid off the counter and dipped past Pumpkin, who was still sleeping from his trip to the vet earlier. Although I had never dealt with death head-on, I knew the worst was yet to come." Courtesy of Stephany Jara.

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March 24, 2017 – Three days remain

The clatter of dried kibble against the metal bowl made it sound as if firecrackers were going off in the neighborhood. It rang throughout my backyard and further. By now, the sound would’ve been interrupted by leaves rustling underneath the pitter-patter of excited feet. But there were none. I circled around my backyard before finally finding my dog, Pumpkin, laying on his stomach in the shed. Although no words were exchanged between us, I understood. He was dying.

Two days remain

“He looks so small laying there like that. Maybe he’s just sad.” My little sister said.

I peered through the glass door and stared closely at his stomach.

I saw him inhale

“I think he’s sick, Soph.” I said.

Through the reflection on the door, I saw her small head cock to the side and her mouth begin to frown. After a few seconds of debating, I guess she was finally satisfied with my answer.

Pumpkin exhaled

Oh. Can we give him some of our medicine then? I can go to the bathroom and get something. Maybe he has a tummy ache.” Sophia hoped.

Inhale

Sophia was just a kid. She was innocent, purely oblivious to the concept of death. She wasn’t going to understand. At least not right now.

Exhale

“Yeah Soph. Maybe he has a tummy ache.” If only it was a tummy ache and not cancer.

One day remains

“We took him to the vet today. They drew some blood. We should get the results tomorrow.” My mom said.

I dangle my feet off the kitchen counter, focusing on the rhythm of the sound my heel makes with every thump against the wood.

“Did the vet say anything else?” I asked.

Thump

“No, but he said it wasn’t good. We shouldn’t get our hopes up you know.”

Thump

I know.

Thump

“Do you think we’re going to have to put him down?” I asked, even though I already knew the answer.

Thump

“Jesus, Stephany how many times do I have to tell you to not get on the counter? It’s all covered with mud now.”

I slid off the counter and dipped past Pumpkin, who was still sleeping from his trip to the vet earlier. Although I had never dealt with death head-on, I knew the worst was yet to come.

Four hours remain

“Come home Stephany.”

The notification from my mom on the little phone screen seemed out of place in the dark movie theater. It taunted me, flashing every two minutes I’d let it go unnoticed.

Come home Stephany

I pull up in my driveway. The neighborhood is quiet, my house is still.

Come home Stephany

I put the key in the lock, angered that I don’t know what’s going on, yet I know what to expect.

Come home Stephany

I turn the key, and turn the knob. I braced myself for the worst.

“I’m home.” I muttered.

“He has cancer. We’ve scheduled to put him down tomorrow. I’m sorry, sweetie.” My mom said.

My eyes automatically dart toward Pumpkin.

Inhale

So many times I’d wake up in the middle of the night to make sure he was still breathing.

Exhale

Make sure to call in sick to work tomorrow.” My mom said.

It became a habit to check on him.

“Mom?” I asked.

“It shouldn’t take long, so you’ll still be able to go to school and whatnot.”

“MOM.”

“Go to your neighbors and give them the dog food. They’ll make much better use of it.”

“Mom… he’s not breathing.”

He didn’t make it to the appointment set for him the next morning.

He didn’t even make it into the night.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Column: Saying the inevitable goodbye”

  1. Santos on March 6th, 2018 11:14 AM

    So sad yet so beautiful… The sights, sounds and feelings come across so vividly.

    [Reply]

  2. Mrs. Tucker on March 26th, 2018 10:09 AM

    Such a beautifully written story Stephany. You have a gift for writing and I’m glad you took journalism. 🙂
    Keep up the good work!!!

    [Reply]

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