March 31, 2023

Peasie’s Goodbye

We said goodbye to Peasie last summer. Or rather, she said goodbye to us.

We had 7 hours between learning that she was seriously ill and saying our final goodbyes.

She had been a bloated and puffy for a while, and constipated. After a number of days it felt like a visit to the veterinarian was needed. She was x-rayed and the vet spent some time explaining the results of the x-rays to us.

The vet spent a really long time explaining. She went on about the options of treatments and procedures and medication. And on. After a while, we still weren’t sure what was happening. She never actually said what was wrong or what they had found.

I didn’t know how to rein it all in. How to find out what I really needed to know the most: how sick was she?

I turned to Peasie, as I often did when I was a little confused or worried or lost. She had a way of making things make sense.

When I looked at her, Peasie took my cue. She spoke up, took charge and immediately got us all organized. The first question I heard her ask was “Am I going to die?” Good question. Its exactly what I was thinking but couldn’t verbalize.

So I turned to the vet and told her plainly that Peasie wanted to know if she was going to die. Yes, the vet said.

The second question Peasie asked was “When will I die?”

And I told the vet that Peasie wanted to know when she would die. Within a few days, is what the vet said.

Peasie’s third question was “How will I die?”

I relayed to the vet that Peasie was asking how she would die. The vet explained that Peasie’s abdomen was full of fluid and she would eventually die by drowning in those fluids. We were told that it is an agonizing process and a very painful way to die.

We discussed the potential of Peasie going into crisis while she was at home. In every scenario we explored, it meant Peasie would be in unbearable pain until we could get her to the veterinarian so they could help her pass away and relieve her suffering.

The fourth question was “How can I avoid that?”

By that point, I think we were all relieved that we were being led so practically and directly through this devastating process by our wise and strong Peasie. She was getting us straight to the point.

The veterinarian almost seemed glad that Peasie brought it up. She told us that the most generous thing we could do for Peasie would be to plan to say goodbye to her while she was still stable. So that she could be spared the agony of going into distress and succumbing to her fluids.

The fifth and last question Peasie asked was “Can we do that today?”

And then I cried. It was real. We were really planning Peasie’s goodbye.

We booked her appointment for the end of the day and went home with Peasie to spend our last hours together.

As soon as we got home, Peasie got straight to work getting her affairs in order. She pushed through her exhaustion and discomfort and found a place to hide every one of her sticks in the back yard.

When she was finished, she came and collapsed beside us on the deck to rest until it was time to go.

We took turns laying at her side and told her what she meant to us and how grateful we were. Although she already knew this, because we said it to her all the time.

When we went back for her appointment, she continued guiding us all through the process. When the vet tech came in to give her the pre-injection sedation, Peasie said she wasn’t quite ready and could she have a few more moments.

I spoke her wishes to the young woman and we waited until Peasie said it was time.

Then it wasn’t long until she was gone.

It only took Peasie 5 questions to get everything answered, understood, decided and planned.

If you knew Peasie, you would know that was exactly her style.

Looking back, I am so grateful that Peasie was able to be heard. That she was able to find out the information that was so important to her and be given the ability to speak her wishes.

While it was happening, I never saw any doubt or disbelief from the veterinarian or the vet tech that Peasie was speaking. it felt natural that Peasie had questions.

It makes me think that there could be such a thing as animal communication assisted vet visits, where an advocate for the animal would be present and they would be given a real voice in the process.

What would it mean to the animal whose wellbeing and life is being affected to have a say in what happens to them? To ask questions about the treatment, about the alternatives, the timeframe, the impact.

We are grateful that Peasie got that chance when she was facing her own death. It seems tough to imagine it any other way.

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