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The True Love Story That Has Left Me Forever Changed

by A.C. Magwood 2 years ago in humanity
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My tribute to the beautiful being that taught us how to love

Egypt posing for me at Point Isabel Dog Run, California - 2007

I never thought that my heart would be strong enough to welcome another dog into my life after my nearly 14-year-old female German Shepherd, Egypt, died on July 5, 2018 after many months of watching her body fall apart and her quality of life deteriorate, first slowly then unbearable quickly it felt. Losing her was the hardest experience of my life. It's hard for a lot of people to understand, but I grieved for her so intensely that it effected my health, mentally as well as physically. I felt irrevocably changed to my core. She and I had been through an INCREDIBLE life story together. For years, she was my ONLY companion and those years of self-isolation in California with Egypt are some of my most cherished memories. She was my soul mate and taught me how to love. Her infirnment period lasted about 9 months. Those were both the longest and the shortest 9 months of my life. I was forced to grapple with intensely raw emotions on a daily basis, unlike any I ever thought I'd have to face. Each day my only goal was to try and love her as well as she had always made me feel loved. Her body was betraying her, but her mind was as sharp as it had always been and her pure black coat was as shiny and solid black as when she was a pup. She never even went grey, except for a few hairs between the toes of her paws. But I watched helplessly as her hind legs started to weaken. I started with just shortening her walks. Then, about four or five months before her death, I decided that allowing her to navigate the stairs in my house were too dangerous after she stumbled mid-flight while attempting to walk upstairs. She crouched down in the middle of the stairs and whined in fear. My heart ached for her. She had always been so proud and strong. My guardian Angel, my rock, my soul-mate, my peace, my joy. She never complained, never whined, never begged... not even as her hind legs slowly, then quickly, became paralyzed by Degenerative Myelopathy... she was strong and brave. I lived for those moments when I was blessed with her expressions of joy. Happily panting in the yard on a perfect Spring day, the sight of her tail wagging as she remained laying on her bed as I brought her the homemade food I had started preparing her in an attempt to slow her disease progression (which amazingly, did result in a slight improvement to her mobility for a joyous couple of months right before her legs seemed to go out completely) I convinced myself that her agility was better on some days than others. I told myself that if I loved her well enough, by making her healthy food, talking to her, and surrounding her with nature whenever possible, then she wouldn't be so distressed by a body that she was steadily losing control of. But I'd often catch

her staring at me while I sat with her, my hand rubbing her chest as I absentmindedly looked ahead at a television I wasn't listening to... I'd look down, hoping I had soothed her to sleep, only to find the sad eyes of the beautiful baby girl who had changed my life for the better when I was only 25. Now I felt like she was desperately trying to communicate something to me. I'd know she had just eaten and I had perfected the art of safely carrying a 90-pound, disabled German Shepherd back and forth from the den (where she and I lived during her lasts months alive. I blocked the stairs to prevent her from attempting them, and I began spending every waking moment in the den with Egypt. I slept on the old sofa down there, and until her last couple weeks alive, she was able to get herself up onto the matching loveseat that I had removed the legs from. I never allowed her to be lonely or hungry or unclean when she started soiling herself. I'd try to clean her butt as soon as I'd spot her body shifting to release a bowel movement that her face didn't even seem to be aware was occurring. I'd carry her to the backyard five or six times a day, but the frequent trips outside wouldn't give her back control of her bowels. But she'd sometimes sniff the air as I jumped up for my supplies, turn her head to inspect herself, then hang her beautiful head in shame when she realized that her body had betrayed her yet again. And each time, my heart broke yet again. It had been broken into so many pieces, I felt that I'd be better off without one. Yet she still loved laying in the grass with the sun on her face. When I'd say her name, my beautifully peaceful, majestic black wolf would look over at me and wag her tail, happily panting. Those moments gave me hope that she was as glad to still be with me as I was to still have her presence. What an incredibly long and terrifying, humbling and awe-inspiring, soul-crushing and life-affirming rollercoaster those last 9 months with my Egypt were... I swore I'd never allow myself to love another living being that intensely. That love had saved my life at 25, but almost cost me my sanity and will to live at 39. I didn't think I could ever forgive myself for making the decision to put her to sleep. I still wonder if I waited too long. Was I just so horrified at the idea of MY making the decision to end the life of one of my life's greatest blessings... I decided then and there, on the back porch of the Vet Clinic, my ex-husbands's arms wrapped tightly around me while both of our faces were wet with tears. Jabreel told me he loved me for the first time in many years in that moment on that back porch, in that embrace, in the middle of a very specific form of shared grief that isolated us from the rest of the world. We stood still in it. We remembered all the love that our Egypt had given us. We had adopted Egypt less that two years after we first started dating. She had been an integral part of our Love Story from nearly the beginning. I had been so consumed with mourning my imminent loss of Egypt that I lost site of the existence of the love that wasn't going to allow me to shrivel up and die. A love that has been tried, tested, and torn to pieces throughout the years, but it turns out, those pieces can come back together, mend, and even become stronger where it had once been so injured. The unconditional love that Jabreel and I experienced when we became Egypt's

parents somehow softened the seemingly unrepairable damage to one's psyche that can result when two young people try to figure out for themselves what Love is supposed to look like. She taught the both of us how to love and how to be loved. For that, she will forever be our hero and guardian angel. I'll love you for eternity, Egypt my Love.


About the author

A.C. Magwood

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