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A Last, Lasting Memory

Bittersweet Miracles

By Jenna SediPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
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Linoleum Ink Print with Watercolor of Roxy

My most cherished moment with my Catahoula was her last.

I lied my belly on the cold tile of the vet office, face to face with Roxy while she rested on her favorite blanket. I pressed my forehead to hers, holding her paws while a final drug injected into her vein. Her last, deep breaths brushed across my nose in a warm wash. I kissed her snout, tears falling to dance down her fur. Roxy's big eyes closed peacefully.

I was grateful. Her suffering of a hard-lived yet endearing life had finally come to a blissful end. Relief and devastation swirled together, pumping from my heart out to every extremity. My mother sobbed on the floor beside me, and even my dad cried a little.

I smiled against her dappled fur. She was at peace - true peace - for the first time in seven years. This was the last needle that would ever pierce her pink skin. The last trip she'd grumble over to the vet. The last time I would ever have to worry about her comfort.

Catahoulas are infamous for their stoic, stubborn personality. Roxy embodied that through and through.

As I lay still on the tile, I thought about all of the challenges she had overcome in her ten years of life. I remembered her tiny, guinea pig sized body in a plastic tub on a scooby doo towel when she was only three weeks old. Her mother, our cousins' dog, had been struck by a car.

I thought of how I used to bottle feed her, gulping down that stinky puppy smell because I knew she would soon grow out of it.

I remembered the serene hours laying on picnic blankets in my front yard with my best friend and our littermate puppies. An old oak gave us the most beautiful shade from the Texan sun.

I recalled the nauseating time she dug up the roots of the sago palms near our patio, becoming violently ill from prehistoric poisons. The emergency vet hospital said she wouldn't make it - they had never seen a dog survive. Our little miracle girl fought hard. But she was three when she developed diabetes from the incident. Every day she received two doses of insulin with her meals. I learned how to inject her by the time I was in middle school.

I pet the soft inset between her eyes, desperate to ingrain every detail of her face in my mind.

I remembered the time she saved me from getting run over by a car. We were relaxing under a tree in the front yard for hours when she suddenly wanted back inside. Not minutes later, a thunderous crash shook our house - a minivan's breaks had failed at the top of our steep col-de-sac, and the car flew down the hill, jumped the curb, sailed between the two trees where we had been sitting, and crunched into the side of our home. There had been a little girl in the back car seat. Luckily we were both okay.

I cherished the many times we hiked up Enchanted Rock, a monolithic granite mountain. Her spotted body running through the bluebonnets, summitting the rocky cliffs and pulling me along by leash. She drank from the little inlets in the rock's peak that collected puddles.

I thought then about the gradual onset of Roxy's milky-way-galaxy cataracts in her blue and brown eyes, as blindness developed from her diabetes and deafness came from her age. Her eyes went first, though.

I brushed my fingertips gently over her closed eyelids. Had she ever let me pet them before?

I remembered the worrisome time that her gall bladder failed, and she turned jaundice. There was a distinct type of fear in witnessing such a foreign, seemingly historical word in action. Her eyes and skin yellowed, she lagged behind her usual self. But she again recovered.

I pressed more kisses to her still temple, thinking about the four years of high school I spent coming home the moment school ended to take care of her - all of the social events that I missed, the parties, the school functions, the study groups. It hadn't ever bothered me much, and in that moment, I was grateful I had prioritized her. I had had so much time with my girl.

I recalled just yesterday, our family trip to Hamilton Greenbelt, Roxy's favorite park. We picnicked by the entrance, splayed out in a grassy field, seeing as she was far to old, blind, and deaf to traverse the rocky trails she used to adore. She had her favorite people snacks, some bacon, some sugar snap peas, some cheese. Her demeanor perked up in our group photos, tears in our eyes but smiles on our faces. In a rare occurrence, she snuggled up against me and snoozed in the sun.

Then there was the car ride to the vet. I pulled her into my lap - she didn't put up much of a fight. I clutched her to me, wiping my face in her short fur. I didn't want the car to ever stop.

But it did. And we took her into the clinic. She used to howl her lungs out every time we went to the vet, a true hound dog. Now she was silent. We took her back and said our goodbyes to our miracle girl.

Even after that last breath, I think I was waiting for her to somehow beat the odds again. Maybe the medicine wasn't mixed right or she hadn't absorbed it correctly. She would suddenly wake up and see me.

But those were selfish hopes. And they dissolved unspoken.

There was joy in her last moments. And relief, and thankfulness, and love for all the time we had shared.

Roxy deserved peace at last. The final relaxing of her shoulders showed that to me. That last breath across my face. I saw her release, relent from her fighting, take comfort in our family, and float.

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About the Creator

Jenna Sedi

What I lack in serotonin I more than make up for in self-deprecating humor.

Illustrator and Interior Architect / Designer within the wild world of zoological design.

Passionate about conservation and sustainability.

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