When heartbreak and celebration collide, heartbreak triumphs.
No matter how bright its light, our happiness hides tearfully behind the most sorrowful of rainclouds, not knowing whether to try and peek through and offer solace, or sink beyond the horizon gracefully and respectfully accepting its defeat.
This May heartbreak struck our family for the second time, for the second birthday in a row, for our huskies. Last year we were crushed with the news that Casanova, our youngest (by two minutes) Siberian Husky was affected by Spindle Cell Cancer. He was diagnosed a day before his 11th birthday and now has a tumour the size of a watermelon on his bottom, although true to his fun-loving, beautiful nature, he seems quite oblivious to it.
This May, after a birthday tea of steak, Excalibur became poorly with what we suspected was a tummy bug. A gluten intolerant husky with digestive problems since birth, we’re used to his issues. Two days later we took him to the vet as he was un-Waggins (one of his any nicknames) like and miserable.
This May, we had sobbing telephone calls and visits to the doggy doctors, and whereas originally the diagnosis was a swollen boy-doggy-bit, we discovered through pre-operation blood tests that Excalibur has both a mass on his lungs and an enlarged part of his heart. He is terminally ill.
This May it seemed so wrong to celebrate.
This June I gained perspective.
This June we partied.
With sausage rolls, strawberries and chocolate cake, and little glass bottles of milk with stripy straws, we celebrated belatedly the 12th birthday of our beloved furkids in the late afternoon sunshine.
There were no candles (huskies do not like candles) and no fireworks (again, huskies do not like fireworks), but there was love. Love and four little boys in my back garden who have changed my life, made me a Momma and who continually burst my heart with a joy I could never have imagined before any of them came into my life all those years ago.
Our family photos are a little harder to organise than most, but they’re beautiful.
We sang Happy Birthday as sorrow climbed a ladder of despair inside of me. Maybe this would be my final Happy Birthday for my boys. I’ve typed this over and over. It hurts right behind my nose, holding in the pain, the selfish tears. Because it is selfish. I have no right to mourn a loss that isn’t mine.
As I watched Baby Dragon squish the nose of the cake and then proceed to poke the eyes through the fondant skull of the hedgehog, my self pity got a hold of itself, slightly.
They hot-potato-pawed the pavement as the fondant face was raised for a photo..
…then they ate their cake.
…they politely refused berries…
As the last strawberry met its squishy fate, we packed up for another day, and Casanova and Excalibur relaxed as we settled the biped boys into bed.
Later that evening, as the sun melted into the Summertime horizon, and we washed the pavement clean of berry stains and spilled milk, I gazed over at our furkids, one curled up on the grass, one on the back doorstep, both snoozing.
They’re both dying before my eyes. Casanova more visibly than Excalibur, although Excalibur’s diagnosis is more raw, more recent. The heartbreak I feel now cannot and will not compare to the eventual tsunami of sorrow that will overtake my life when those terrible days are upon me. Even now I have to avoid thinking of that because it brings me to tears and rips me apart even with them beside me and at my feet as I write. I’m consumed with questions. Should I have loved them more? Do they know how much I adore them; can they feel it? Do they feel less loved now that we have our baby boys? For those people who have never known the loyalty of a pet, these questions are ludicrous. For those of us who’ve welcomed a furry four-legger into our households, they’re torture. These are my first children, my twelve year old twins, and I love them unconditionally.
I can’t predict their future, don’t know their will to survive. But here’s what I do know.
My huskies have no idea on their diagnoses, didn’t understand what the vet said. They have no idea of their conditions. Or maybe they do. If the latter is true, then I wish for the same joie de vivre as I grow older. For they are alive today, in this moment, and whether they’re snoozing on the sofa, counter surfing for a forgotten biscuit, or trying to start a husky-rumble, they’re lost to that moment. They have no regrets, harbour no resentment and treasure each moment of their lives.
There is nothing medically that I can do for my beautiful furkids. All I can do is love, comfort and hope. Hope not only for them, but for me. I want to hold onto the painful, tearful life lesson that I’m learning; to be happy now. To love now. To smile now, to laugh now…because you never know what’s going on under your skin.
Now is for living, right now…because you can’t go back, can’t do it again, can’t put it on pause.
So here’s to you, my beautiful boys. Happy birthday, happy Saturday. Without words or woofs (for huskies howl) you’ve taught your Momma more than you could ever imagine. You are, and always will be with me, cherished in the deepest part of my heart.