Trying to cope.
This is a very personal, possibly rather mixed-up, set of reflections of how the day after Pharaoh died felt for me. Some of you may prefer not to read this or view the photos.
I sat down to write this, late morning Tuesday, as it was becoming too hot to stay outside. I felt inspired to be 100% honest about my feelings and the photographs are, in essence, copies of the pictures that are in my head.
I woke early yesterday, a little after 4am, and started listening to BBC Radio Four using ear-phones plugged into my tablet while Jeannie slept on.
But I couldn’t get the images of Monday out of my head. Such that it seemed unreal to think that less than thirty-six hours previously Pharaoh was sleeping quietly near his bed, albeit unable to walk on his own.
Then, in what seemed like the flick of a finger, Jeannie was offering Pharaoh my dinner plate Monday evening.
For every evening, unless we had eaten a very spicy meal, Pharaoh always licked my plate clean.
A routine that had gone on for years.
I lay there in bed as 1pm arrived in England (5am PDT) and BBC Radio 4 was broadcasting The World At One. Despite the gloomy headlines still focusing on that terrible fire at the Grenfell Tower in London (not three miles from where I was born in 1944), the images of Monday kept thundering into my consciousness.
How dear friend, Jim Goodbrod, and I had driven into Allen Creek Veterinary Hospital, where Jim is a visiting DVM each week, to collect the required amount of euthanasia drug (apparently just 1 c.c. for every 10 lbs of animal weight – looking at it in the syringe it seemed such a small amount of fluid to bring an end to Pharaoh’s life.)
Then over breakfast, as in Tuesday morning, Jean said how difficult it was watching Pharaoh yesterday (Monday) when Jim and I were away getting the meds because it seemed to her that Pharaoh sensed something was happening outside the run of a normal morning.
Continuing with Monday. When Jim returned, accompanied by his wife, Janet, and knelt down to examine Pharaoh his analysis was that the time was right. Pharaoh had lost massive amounts of muscle tissue from his rear legs and hips.
It was time. Jean and I settled down sitting on the floor alongside Pharaoh’s bed. Pharaoh shifted his body and placed his wonderful, furry head across my outstretched legs. It was time.
Jim injected Pharaoh with an anesthetic. Slowly, gently Pharaoh fell fast asleep. Jim shaved a patch of fur from Pharaoh’s front, right lower leg. Janet pinched a vein in Pharaoh’s leg and moments later, Jim injected the euthanasia drug. Jean and I continued to stroke Pharaoh’s forehead but frequently looked down to where the rise and fall of Pharaoh’s lungs was visible.
Then at 11:57 PDT Monday, June 19th., there was no more breathing. Jim took out a stethoscope and confirmed that there was no heart-beat. Jim closed Pharaoh’s eyelids while Jean and I sat quietly just holding on to Pharaoh. A few minutes later, Jean and I had wriggled out from under Pharaoh and then Jim slipped a plastic sack over the rear half of Pharaoh’s still body.
Pharaoh had died without pain and in the most gentle way imaginable.
Back to Tuesday, as in yesterday, and now Jean and I were awake and I was reading every comment and response to the post Adieu, Mon Brave.
I must tell you that the love and compassion extended by every single one of you, including the numerous emails sent to me, is the most precious, special recognition of what Pharaoh meant to me, to my Jeannie, and to you all.
Thank you! Thank you so much!
Time then for a call into England and to let Sandra Tucker know that Pharaoh had died. For Pharaoh had been born at Jutone, the GSD breeding kennels run by Sandra Tucker, and Jim, in Hennock, Devon.
Pharaoh’s legacy will live on forever. What he stood for. What he represented. What I learned from Pharaoh. What he inspired in me. That inspiration that will live with me until it’s my turn to take my last breath.
Then it was time to get up and try and stay occupied. But I didn’t warrant for seeing Pharaoh’s empty bed as I walked out of the bedroom into the living-room.
It looked so empty, so lonely.
I burst into tears.
I turned on my heels and went out to feed the horses and the wild deer. As is done every morning.
Walking back to the house, I stepped up on to the rear deck and looked up at the line where the tops of the forest trees on the hills to the East meet the morning sky. It was a clear, cloudless sky.
The sun was within seconds of rising above that skyline. I took a photograph and then the sun had risen. It was 06:24 am. Fifteen hours to the minute before the exact moment of the Summer Solstice this evening (21:24 PDT).
I don’t know what it all means other than in some mysterious, natural fashion, everything is connected.
Dear, sweet, noble Pharaoh.