Wednesday, November 2, 2016

the empty bowl

It's obvious when a bowl is empty, right?

It's a basic assumption we can recognize an empty bowl when we see one. Sometimes that empty bowl will stare us in the face, and yet, we look beyond it.

At other times, that empty bowl will slap us in the face and demand to be recognized.




We didn't realize we had an empty bowl until Eddie adopted us on March 25, 2004. And just like that, our bowl was full.

No, it overflowed.

It was so unexpected. We'd never had a pet who filled our hearts so fully as this little rescue dog did. And by "rescue dog," I mean he really rescued us. He was so sweet and so grateful, and he loved us so completely.

We were his pack.

He was the child Phil and I had together. He was the dog of all time. Or, as my friend Janie Junebug would say, he was the dog of our lives.

I could speak endlessly of Eddie. But a picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words.



We lost our sweet boy on Wednesday, October 19th.

A week prior, he began to feel unwell. I won't go into all the details, but after four trips to the vet, x-rays, bloodwork, and day-long IVs, we still had no answers.

We thought he had swallowed something (even though that was completely out of his character). We thought he wouldn't eat because he had something lodged in his digestive tract.

The vet suggested the thickness of his stomach lining (as she saw in the x-ray) could be cancer.

No, it couldn't.

That's impossible.

Fix him. We need you to fix him.

Finally, we took him to the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

We gave them details from every day of the previous week. No, he can't have cancer. He was so healthy just a week ago!

After some tests, the lymphoma discovered in his tummy was the cause of all his distress.


***********************
No, this can't be fixed. He's in pain. He's no longer eating or drinking. 

He must be euthanized.

We can do that for you right now, if that's what you wish.

No! We have to take him home. He needs to sleep with us one more night. He needs to know we love him! Our kids need to come and tell him goodbye. We need to hold him. Oh, Eddie . . .

We can give him pain meds, anti-nausea meds, and steroids to get him through until tomorrow.

Yes, please. Anything to help him be comfortable until tomorrow.

***********************

When our little boy came back out to the waiting room, he looked five years younger. All the meds had masked the pain of the cancer. He danced!


And it was brutal.

This is NOT a dog who needs to die! He needs to live!

But it was all a façade.

He had a pretty good evening. He still didn't want to eat his canned dog food (we call it meatloaf), but he was overjoyed at being given his very own plate of chicken salad. He ate with such fervor! He ate even more that evening!

He slept through the night for the first time in a week.

When we awoke, we could see the meds were wearing off. He went out to his yard one last time. He sadly turned away from the offered plate of chicken salad. He spent his final hours on his beloved sofa, where he had spent countless hours reading books and watching movies with us.

One of us was on constant sentry duty by his side all morning.

Around noon, the vet arrived and put our sweet boy to sleep.

That final blow to our hearts was devastating. It was unimaginable this sweet little boy, who had been such an integral part of our lives, could be gone forever.

We can never go through this again. The pain is too much to bear.

Our home went suddenly and utterly silent. And empty. And cold.

I still expect to see his little face looking around a doorway. 

If I make a noise loud enough for his silky (and nearly-deaf) little ears to hear, I expect him to jump off the couch and come trotting over to me.

I drop a piece of food on the floor, and in a split second, I determine whether or not it's safe for him to eat. A moment later, I remember it doesn't matter. He's no longer waiting at my feet, anticipating that lost morsel.

I pull out the can opener and begin opening a can, fully expecting to see him staring up at me, expecting a big slab of his meatloaf. I would give anything to do that for him.

But the house remains silent and still.

I casually search the house for a puddle of doggie pee when I come home, only to recall it's not a possibility. Nothing would make me happier than to find a steaming-hot pile of shit in my closet. He only did that once, but at least it would mean he was still here.

There are dirty paw prints on the foyer floor I can't quite bring myself to wipe away.

How can a twelve-pound Schnauzer leave such a great abyss?

Before we placed Eddie in his bed for the last time, we made one more lasting memento. We could never forget him, but now we will always have this impression and know that this was HIS little foot.

Eddie Was Here.



While the bowl may not appear empty, it is certainly no longer full.

The days go by, and we go through our stages of grief. We stumble through our lives and wonder how we will ever feel whole again.

We think about our bowl being forever empty.

We wake. We breathe. A tiny bit of the heaviness lifts.

And suddenly, in a sweet moment of Grace, we realize there just may be someone out there who will rescue us.

And fill our bowl.

Again.





57 comments:

  1. So sorry ...we have 2 little dogs I can't imagine them not being here.My husband would agree with not knowing the bowl was empty .
    It took 25 years for me to convince him to get a dog. Now he misses them like crazy if we go away on holidays and cannot bring them.

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  2. I'm sitting here crying like a baby for you all and for myself. For all those who rescued me and have now left me an orphan once again. My Lola is getting old, and just the thought of her I longer here takes my breath away for a split second until I remember she still is. I am sending you the biggest hug, not to take your pain away but to share in it with you, and to let you know that even though we've never met in person, my heart breaks for your loss. I am so very sorry! ❤️❤️

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    1. Thank you so SO very much! I've dreaded that moment for the past 12 1/2 years, and it was so much harder than I ever imagined. He left such a tremendous hole in our hearts, but we're working on filling it back up. :)

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  3. The love of a dog is a special thing. My heart aches for you both - I'm so sorry.

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    1. Thank you Kay. He was so very special!!

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  4. Oh, there's a heaviness that's beginning to lift...a new bowl will be filled, a new heart will be loved and you, my dear, dear friend will breathe easy again until you see your sweet boy once more. He'll never be replaced but there is so much joy and love to be had in the journey that a new bowl brings. I can't wait to hear all about her.
    xoxo, T.

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  5. So sorry ...we have 2 little dogs I can't imagine them not being here.My husband would agree with not knowing the bowl was empty .
    It took 25 years for me to convince him to get a dog. Now he misses them like crazy if we go away on holidays and cannot bring them.

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  6. I know. All I can say is, I know. I am so sorry.

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  7. So sorry for your loss. They sure get into our hearts. Each one leaves an impression there.

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  8. My heart broke when I saw on Facebook that Eddie had passed. Two of my dearest friends also had to have their dogs put down that same week. But I'm so glad to see that your hearts are open for another one. Eddie would want that. Love and hugs, Dona

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    1. Oh, it's SO heartbreaking! We'd never had to do that before and it just nearly destroyed us. But we're getting by with a little help from a new friend... :)

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  9. I have felt that cavern of emptiness before, but I know this time when Karma goes it will leave an even larger hole. She's been my constant companion since I have been housebound so I've never spent so much time with one animal in my life. It's been obvious how much Eddie was loved and adored from the first I discovered your blog. I'm glad he did have his one more night at home and got to die at home with his pack. :) *love and hugs*

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  10. I'm crying as I type because it brings back vivid memeories of my little man - a 12 pound Maltese named Murray. It took all I had in me to finally get a little walnut box with a brass plate on the top for his ashes. It reads: IF TEARS WERE A STAIRWAY AND MEMORIES A LANE, I'D WALK RIGHT UP TO HEAVEN AND BRING YOU HOME AGAIN....
    God bless you - and here's the most interesting part of this story. 8 mo wounths later after I swore never again could I go through this pain - I begged God to take ME and leave my baby - HE did something I would never have believed. A friend of a co-worker found a tiny female Maltese looking for food behind a resturant and convinced me she should come home with me. I flatly refused and after a few days finally gave in. On my birthday, October 10, I brought a 4 month old baby that I named Maddie Rose home with me. She's truly the love of my life and I know God sent my Murray back to me. It's all TRUE!!! Stay strong... you'll find another Eddie to love you just like I got my Murray back - but with a different name. So VERY VERY SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS.... I know - I've been there.

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    1. Thank you SO much. Against everything we imagined, God has already sent us another little sweetheart to rescue us. I'm so happy for you and your Maddie Rose!!

      xo
      -andi

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  11. We only have them for such a short time but give us a lifetime of love. Eddie is up at Rainbow Bridge healthy and happy waiting till he meets you again. x

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  12. So very sorry!! My heart hurts for you and yours. Praying for y'all!

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  13. I am so sorry about your loss. I am trying not to just outright bawl right now. Having lost our beloved Molly in March (seems like yesterday) I know how you feel right now. They are not pets, they are our children and losing them is painful. It is heartbreaking.

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    1. Yes, it is! I'm so sorry to hear about your Molly. :(

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  14. I've been there too many times with beloved pets. It never is easy. Hugs to you and Phil. I'll say a prayer for Eddie's soul.

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  15. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for rescuing Eddie and giving him a wonderful life. I'll miss seeing his sweet face in your posts.

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  16. So sorry for your loss. Thank you for rescuing Eddie and giving him a wonderful life. I'll miss seeing his sweet face in your posts.

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    1. We will miss him terribly. But, there may be a new sweet face in future posts. ♥

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  17. Andi, I know you will see Eddie out of the corner of your eye, hear his noises and think you are losing your mind. You. Are. Not. Eddie is around and wanting you to know he is doing great, loves you so much and will always be with you. He will make sure someone wonderful rescues you. :) All of us who have had non-human family know your pain intimately. It is bittersweet to have had the company of such wonderful family and they pack so much joy into such a relatively short time.
    I send you tons of love and hugs... and still more love and hugs to you all!
    ~ Christina in FL

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  18. I know how much you meant to each other, and we loved seeing him in your posts. Sending you all the good.

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  19. No! I saw the photo of the empty bowl in my blog feed and I just knew. I almost didn't want to read your post. I, too, am crying for you, Eddie, and all the dogs I've lost. It's so, so difficult. No dog will ever be like Eddie, but the joy a new one can bring you is worth opening your heart for.

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  20. So so sorry for your loss. These little furry creatures are members of our family & will always be.

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  21. Ripped my heart our to read this, well except the steaming hot shit part. My little Mo is chewing his bone at my feet and the noise doesn't bother me, but I know when it's silent for good I'll hate that. However I spy new bowls of pink.

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  22. My heart is breaking along with yours. I too know the pain of losing a delightful companion. Like you, I'm not sure who adopted whom, or who rescued whom. Or is that the other way around? Our dear cat, Midnight, was the love of my life, but it is clear now that he was always sick, but just chose to hide that from us till the very end. But no matter how much you love Eddie, I can assure you, that like me, you will one day hear meowing, er barking, and know that there is another dog out there that needs you. Eddie will always be with you, and because of you, with us.

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    1. Oh Marilyn, that last bit was so beautiful. "Eddie will always be with you, and because of you, with us." I'm so happy I got to share Eddie with all you wonderful people. He was an amazing little guy. And you're right...there is another little dog who needs us, and we certainly need her.

      xo
      -andi

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  23. I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My beloved Mona was diagnosed with lymphoma the day after mother's day, 2010. She fought bravely going through chemo until September when the cancer won. I feel your pain and emptiness, loving thoughts from me and my 3 pups to you.

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    1. Oh, my goodness! They break our hearts, don't they? Yet, they give us SO much during their short time!

      hugs,
      andi

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  24. Flippin' lymphomma. That is what took my Murphy back in 2012. Eddie obviously meant a lot of the rest of us also, we're all mourning his loss. Please take good care of you.

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  25. So very, very sorry. We've been through this twice in the past 4 years. Didn't want to try again but the house was so empty, And somewhere out there was a dog with unconditional love to share, so we got an abandoned female, and lo and behold, 6 weeks later she gives us bountiful love in 6 sweet little puppies, and most of the pain of losing our dear Hildie was gone in the midst of watching all this beautiful life bounce around. Of course we endured more pain as we gave away all the puppies but one. Now we have 2 dogs! What I'm saying is that if you say you never want another dog after losing one, is that you are missing out on so much love. Cherish the memories of your dear pet and remember all the love you shared!

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    1. Thank you so much Linda. ♡ As for never having another dog, that was exactly how we felt in that very moment. Rest assured...it didn't take very long before we were rescued again. :) ♡♡♡

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  26. So sorry for your loss Andi. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you go through the process of grieving. Blessings, Nancy (from Canada)

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  27. Andi,
    I'm so sorry to read that post. I know how much you loved Eddie and how much he loved you: it showed in every post. I understand how empty everything in the house must feel, but your heart isn't empty as Eddie left so much love there. Thinking of you,
    Magali

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  28. my heart is breaking for you. i know only to well how much love an animal can bring to your family, and home. i sit here tearing up and hopeing against hope that day will never come for my and my lovey. she is 12 years old this christmas and i am begininng to get scared. every little thing that seems odd sends me into a panic. i admire your courage at only claiming one last night.

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    1. Just love that sweet baby for all the days you have with her!

      xoxo
      -andi

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  29. What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing your story with us. A friend of mine sent this to me, knowing I would love it...and smile...and cry. My husband and I went through a similar situation, twice actually. We rescued a senior dog, Vern, 5 years ago when he was almost 10, and had to say goodbye this past May when he was almost 15. My husband and I grieved just as you said, and then in August, we rescued another "older" dog. His name is Charlie. He's an 8 year old, a beagle/mix, and we are crazy about him! :) (PS I'm a new follower!)

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  30. From the moment I discovered your blog it was obvious how much you loved Eddie and all the joy he brought you and your readers. My heart aches for you! I have only ever had cats but I know how quickly a pet becomes part of the family. I am so sorry. Know that he was blessed to have had you as his momma just as you were blessed to have him as your baby. That will never change.

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    1. Thank you so much. He is missed and still very loved.

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  31. We both have been there before and our #1 dog was like no other. This time around we brought two very young sisters home to help heal and stem the tears. When they were only here a couple of days, we found them outside laying on our #1's grave and I swear to this day that she was telling them about us and all the stuff they would get away with in the future and that we would love them forever. Each sister have very different personalities but I swear I see a bit of our #1 in both of them, though they were not related except partial bred. Like going to the lake and peeing in the water! Or waiting until we all snuggle into bed and then "woof, I have to pee mom". It has been almost 12 years and we will still mention #1 and say she has influenced these pups as well as our lives forever, just as these two babies will also be forever loves.

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    1. What a sweet story! I know Eddie is influencing our little Gracie, although she is certainly very different from him. Thanks for visiting!

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  32. An eloquent tribute to your Eddie. I am sure he is looking down from heaven and saying, "Hey! That bowl is NOT empty, Mom and Dad! It's full of LOVE! Good bless all of you. I went through that in May of 2016. And when I accepted that the pain would always be there, I also accepted that there was some little creature out there that needed to be rescued in Mr. Bill's name. And then I discovered a poor little grey cat that no one wanted because she was so scared and aggressive. Four months later and that little kitty is confident and gentle. Thank you Mr. Bill for knowing that Lil' Bit and I needed to have full bowls. And Thank You, Eddie for having been here.

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    1. He was the sweetest little dog. Gracie is healing our hearts very well though. Thanks for sharing your story, and thank you so much for your kind words!

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  33. Feeling kind of hazy as tears slide down my face.I have only just today "met" Eddie.
    I found your bedskirt blog and searched for your website.I discovered then that Eddie had gone on a trip to Rainbow Bridge.
    See,I understand exactly how you and your family felt/feeling,because my best-est friend-Miss Rosiedog passed a year ago on the 11th March 2016.Miss Rosiedog was my best friend,she forgave me for all the times I was a scattered brained owner,when I had to leave her to go to work for all of those hours,when she asked for a walk and I was exhausted from long hours at work,for all of the scattered brain times,Rosie I am sorry.I want her to know as I am sure Mr Eddie does,she was adored,loved and my trusted friend.
    I may never get around to the sleek bedskirt,but I ask that perhaps Eddie and Rosie are having one hell of a good time up there.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear about Miss Rosiedog! And you're coming up on her one-year anniversary. I'm quite sure she knows how very much you loved her. Many hugs to you, my friend!

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