I started feeling sick in early July. Before I even understood how poorly I felt, Birr knew. At first I thought it was the thunderstorms and fireworks that made him seek constant contact with me. Now I know otherwise.
Birr has been my constant companion since he joined the family 5 years ago. He was the runt of the litter, and Kris followed his tenuous fight for survival on the breeder’s website. One day she marched into the family room and announced, “I’m getting a puppy, and I don’t care what you say.” It was not the time to point out that I’d been out of work for a year, and that we needed another dog like a hole in the head. I choose my battles wisely.
We made the trip to the Lakeside Run Chinookery in MA to pick up the pup shortly thereafter. In what I still regard as slightly ironic, Birr (at that time, Bear), crawled into my arms and refused to let go. He picked me, and I’ve done everything I can to live up to his lofty expectations ever since.
Yes, Kris trotted him to multiple National Championships and the win at Westminster, but he only put up with it because he knew daddy was waiting nearby for a joyous reunion. He’s done us proud, but the priorities have always been clear.
I have always dreaded what I regarded as inevitable – having to let go of my buddy when his time was done. Now I don’t know how to feel. Relieved that I won’t have to go through it? Sad because I won’t be there to comfort him? Just plain angry? All of the above, and more…
Multiply these thoughts and feelings and apply them to all of my friends and family. The only way I can come to terms with it is to see myself as the lucky one. I simply get to leave. Easy for me, but not fair for those I leave behind.
Forgive the odd intro, but there’s no sense dancing around the plain facts. I am a fertile breeding ground for cancer. It’s growing in my body like Kudzu grows in Georgia. Yes, I’ll battle for control, but the outcome is certain – and it will probably be swift.
As with other major events in my lifetime, I’m inclined to write about my experience. My mother even suggested outright that I do so:
“… Surely it has occurred to you that you should write about this. Maybe it would give you a diversion. (On the other hand, maybe enough is enough.) But you write so well and observe what others don’t always see. I’ll bet you could explain what is happening better than the average dear soul who never expected to get clobbered with cancer…”
I would like to celebrate the time that’s left by remembering the past and considering the future with my friends. I can already tell that it won’t be easy as my faculties are compromised, but one must make the best of a given situation. Perhaps I can manage to share some useful tips along the way. I dearly want to do whatever I can to ease the transition for the love of my life, Kris, and hope that those who can help will do what they can.
I will understand completely if some of my Facebook friends choose to turn off my feed. In any case, I will probably do most of my writing on my own website (chesterh.com), so you can check there occasionally if you like.
No matter what, I do want to say, “Thank you,” to all who have been with me along the road. It’s been a good ride.