In the previous post, I wrote about our precious Jack’s last night and morning. Our last trip in the car follows.
I put Jack’s bed and warm, purple blanket in the car. The softest, most cozy blanket in the house and my favourite colour. We took him to the lawn for one last wee-wee. Of course, my mind started its familiar tricks again with “The last time we do this …” Stay present, Liesel, just breathe. Be there for him.
I wanted to sit in the back of the car with my boy. He lay in his bed, tranquil and half asleep. I pulled his bed close to me, put my seat belt on (“what, such a normal thing again??”) and he rested his warm chin on my left leg.
The very last trip in the car. Hearts breaking, silent tears rolling down cheeks as we set off. Surely this isn’t happening? Not really?
My thoughtful husband let the car fill with the most divine and uplifitng classical guitar music (my birthday gift to him a few years back). A Vivaldi guitar concerto, played on an 8-string guitar suddenly made the trip bearable. It was a gift I’ll never forget – the soothing, calming sounds that took me to a calm place of knowing this was the right thing.
On the way there no-one said a word. Andrew caught my eye a few times in the rear-view mirror and we managed small, teary smiles.
At one stage the most unbelievable image entered my mind. A lightness and gratitude and relief filled my heart as I whispered, “Jack, you’re going home! It’s going to be so exciting! There are colourful balloons, a welcome party, a huge, fun banner saying “WELCOME JACK!” and there will be a band announcing your arrival. They’re going to be so happy to see you, they’ve been preparing your place and it’s ready for you now! You’re going to love it there!! Marianne’s adorable cats are waiting to show you around!”
I felt an unreal joy through the unbearable sadness. Happy for Jack, who would have no more pain, discomfort, nausea, icky. He’d be running again, soon. He was ready and peaceful.
While I stayed with Jack, Andrew went into the vet’s office and told them we’d arrived. One of my usual fears is we’d have to hang around forever while Jack and I got more and more nervous. Of course, this event was Divinely orchestrated, not in my hands. There was only one person ahead of us who was busy paying, then it would be our turn.
Andrew took a few last photo’s of my boy wrapped in his purple blanket. Within a minute or so, Dr Sampson came out and let us know to come in.
Andrew carried Jack in his loving arms while I went ahead and laid his bed and purple blanket on the steel table. Little Jack sat on it, with Andrew’s hands on him, a bit uncertain. He really didn’t like the smells in this place, yet the tranquilizer was doing its work.
Dr Sampson had to take him to the back room to insert a small catheter in his right arm for the injection. He kindly explained exactly what would happen. I looked into my brave, brave boy’s eyes, sent all the courage and love in my heart to him and said “Be brave one more time, my Jack”, before Dr Sampson took him to the back.
The two of us together, alone in the office, I collapsed into Andrew’s arms, cried. After what felt like 10 minutes, which was probably only 2, I felt ready to dry my tears and be strong again.
Dr Sampson came back with Jack and put him gently on the blanket. My heart was beating wildly. We stroked him, loved him, not believing what was about to happen. He asked “Are you ready?” We could only manage a nod.
We both stood with both hands on our Jack while the aneasthetic was injected into the catheter in his arm. He was sitting up, not lying down. I sent love, asked him to be brave, stroked his warm head. Within 4 or 5 seconds, suddenly there was only a statue sitting there. Both still with our hands on his body, we stood silently for a few minutes. The vet respectfully stood in a corner and gave us time. I didn’t howl, didn’t cry out loud, although I rested my head on Andrew’s shoulder and shed silent tears.
Jack went peacefully. He was no longer in pain.
We stood talking to Dr Sampson for a few minutes. We even managed a feeble joke. Strange, what can happen in unusual circumstances. It felt like I was a witness, not a participant. I watched it all happen even though my body was present.
All the normal things had to happen. Life was still happening all around us, though it felt like ours would never be the same. We went the pay the last bill, and the receptionist was kind enough to offer that we settle another day. We didn’t want to return for that, would rather complete it all now. We paid and sat numbly in the car, still parked in the vet’s parking area.
More tears, still feeling like this didn’t just happen. What now? What the heck now?
We hadn’t had breakfast yet, and even though it was now 12 pm, we couldn’t face food. We both felt like just driving, into some country areas where we used to go a lot before we had little Jack. About 20 minutes into the drive, I suddenly remembered… and said to Andrew – “I know EXACTLY where I want to go.” I told him, he agreed instantly and we were on our way. Synchronistically, we were already more than halfway there.
You see, in the letter that Yolanda sent, only 2 days before with the precious message from Jack, he said: “I can’t be with you for much longer. You have to go in your car to your favourite place. (It is a place in nature. Looks like a botanical garden, stream or river….). You have to start walking around the block again and drink your water, Mom”.
I’d completely forgotten this part, through all the sadness, arrangements and decisions. The perfect, perfect place for us to be now was the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens. We both love being there and it was one of the first places we visited as a new couple, 9 years ago. And it was only minutes away from where we were already.
It seemed that little Jack was already guiding us lovingly from beyond. Our hearts relaxed.
To be continued, with our story on Healing the Sadness.