Obi died 10 years ago today. Even now, I just noticed myself resisting the memory of it, some part of me saying, “don’t go there, it’s too painful.” Obi was diagnosed with lymphoma at just seven years old. Lymphoma is one of the most curable cancers in humans, but in dogs, while it is treatable it’s ultimately fatal. Obi’s initial prognosis was somewhere between two weeks to two months if we did nothing, and because he had T-cell multicentric lymphoma, his chances were even worse. We did chemotherapy, (he was our first dog and other than a barely swollen lymph node in his chest, he was perfectly healthy, AND we had the money so we felt like we should). He went into remission for six months, but the cancer came back before he finished his protocol. Since we knew we were fighting a losing battle, and any extra time was really for us not him, we spent the next three months spoiling him and watching him really close to be sure he still wanted to be here.
He had been feeling worse for a few days. When you have a dog with a terminal illness, one bad day isn’t enough to end it, but two days in a row when you already know you are at the end is absolutely more than enough. He’d been drinking too much water, couldn’t seem to stop himself. Eating was making him nauseous and he was so gaunt, slow, and tired. Looking in his eyes made it clear. He really wanted to stay, to be here with us, but he was just so tired, so done. I had told him all along that he needed to let me know when it was too much, and he did.
My camera broke the night before we let him go. This was back when I only had one camera, and no cameras on our phones. I’d dropped it face down on our concrete patio, the lens was bent so it couldn’t close and it wouldn’t turn on. I panicked and immediately made a plan to go to Target and get a new one, then had a moment of clarity — rather than waste my time and energy on getting a new camera, taking more pictures, I could just be with him.
We still miss you Big Dude, but now it’s more happy that we got to love you than sad we had to lose you. This kind of grief never really goes away though, you just wear it and carry it for so long that it gets a funny, awkward sort of comfortable.