Day 24 – The Challenge of Distance

Hey there,

I’m not going to go about my experience in Paris and pretend like everything is perfect. I don’t want to mislead you. Too often we are selective on Social Media with sharing just what’s good in our lives and hesitate to share the bad or play the ‘vague’ card and hope for sympathy. I’m not looking for sympathy. I’m just looking to be real with you. Because life isn’t always about sunshine and rainbows.

If you know me well enough, you know that I have no desire to have children of my own (don’t give me the, “It’s the best experience,” “You’ll change your mind,” “Your biological clock will tick,” – I’m thirty years old, and at thirty years in this body, I know it far better than your assumptions about it ever will). But I do have animals. My pets are my life. They are my children (keep your, “It’s not the same!” comments out of here, too, please). When I was suffering from depression and working on my PTSD, I often said to therapists that they were my reason for living; not knowing what would happen to them if I died is what kept me alive. People say that about their children. That is how deep my love for my trio, my squad, goes.

Last night I received a FaceTime call I’ve been fearing: something is wrong with one of my pets. And it was the one I least expected. Luna.

an old photo taken by an old partner of me passed out on the couch with Luna

Luna is my eldest. I adopted her at 4 years old an she is now eleven. She was found on the streets of Hamilton and never claimed. Her age is approximate based on her teeth, but with the way her fur has now whitened, you’ve got to wonder if a few years were missing. Luna was the only dog that I found that filled the hole in my heart when my dog Elmo died.

Luna was my first pet. The first pet that belonged to me. That came with me when I moved out. That would crawl all over me and lick my face when I was crying. That would curl into a ball between my legs and sleep there, until crawling up to me in the middle of the night and staring at me until I let her under the covers. That would let me squeeze her without squirming out of my grip. That would leap into my arms when I tapped on my chest and then climb on me like a mountain goat. She is my wild child. She was kind of like me in dog form: stubborn, loving, wildly independent, a bit of an introvert, and an absolute punk. And I often joked that she would live forever, and probably outlive me, eating my body if I died…

But last night I got the call that she wasn’t moving. She was lethargic. She was practically paralyzed. When she tried walking in this state, she would walk on an angle. Watching it on my phone was heart-breaking. I told my parents this wasn’t normal and they called the vet.

At the vet, they said she was back to normal. I was so happy! I had spent the last thirty minutes bawling my eyes out, and she’s back to her old self! And then another half-hour later, there she was, back into that weird state of paralysis. The vets did test. All vital signs, fine. All blood work, negative. As expected, my young-at-heart terrO(ie)r was healthy. But what could that mean? It means it’s neurological.

The vet said there was no reason going to see a neurologist. Luna is old. If it’s something in her brain like a tumor, she is too old to change that, to remove it, to have an operation. Another thing about Luna is that she does not recover well from anesthesia, so an operation wouldn’t even be an option for her. The vet said if Luna is eating, drinking, and going to the washroom, she is okay. When that stops, quality of life needs to be considered.

So, here I am, halfway across the world, knowing my eldest is sick to a point where it’s just a matter of waiting to see when she stops eating, drinking, going to the washroom, and then having to make a decision about putting her down. It’s a waiting game now. It’s a waiting game to see how long these lethargic states last, if they prevent her from being the dog she once was. Basically, she is dying (though aren’t we all..), and I just have to wait. Wait half-way across the world. On my own. Where I can’t even hold her.

This sucks. I have no other words to describe it without cussing extensively. It’s awful. It’s horrible. And it’s my dog. I am halfway across the world and my baby is unwell and I can’t do anything. I feel helpless. I feel completely helpless and I feel some guilt and I feel a bit of anger at the universe. And I’m already hypersensitive as we round up on the anniversary of my Grandmother’s death (knowing me well enough, you understand how important she was to me) and the thought that my dog might meet the same fate on that date… I don’t know what I would do.

Being so far away when someone/something you love is hurting does not feel good. And being in a country where you could really use a hug but you don’t know anyone who can give that to you also doesn’t feel good. I kind of got lucky with the timing as my cousin – who is also the great-nephew of my grandmother – happens to be here in Paris. So I will sucker a helluva hug out of him when I see him next. But otherwise, the isolation when you are suffering sucks. It’s the reason why, when I heard my neighbour crying through the walls of our apartment, my heart broke. So I knocked on her door and told her that, I know I’m a stranger and that we are meeting for the first time, but I heard her and need her to know that she’s not alone. And if she ever needs anything, I’m here. And then I gave her some under-eye masks to help with the swelling. She only arrived back at her apartment this morning, or I know if she had heard me, she would have reciprocated.

Yet another oldie taken of me on the couch with my baby

I told my mom that I told my angels/guides that they could keep Paris, as long as I could keep Luna. That’s now much this hurt me. I would give up Paris to keep my dog. And I guess, in a way, I am going to have to give up Paris. I can’t fly Luna over in this state. And I can’t leave Luna behind knowing that I could lose her at any moment. So, come December, it’s no longer a thought in my head about finding a bigger place and bringing my pets over here to live with me.

And, you know what, there is a lesson that comes from each moment of sadness. I’ve learned that my love for this place, though it runs deep in my veins and fuels me, inspires me, motivates me, I can make that kind of home anywhere I am. If I just look at life a little differently, I could find that happiness outside of Paris. Because, truly, my home is when I’ve got my animals with me. And their presence is more valuable to me than the blue roofs of Paris. Love and family, in general, is more valuable than the blue roofs of Paris.

When you read that, coming from me, let it sink in. Knowing how much this city means to me, truly let it set and come to understand it. I had Paris before Luna, and I will have Paris after Luna, but there is only one Luna and when moments are finite, you need to cherish them, not take them for granted, appreciate every single second.

This will not taint my experience. If anything, it will teach me even more about not taking these moments, these seconds, these cobblestones for granted. It’s a little more finite than I had hoped, but I’m going to experience it with even more vigor and grandeur than I already was. It’s not to say that I won’t ever have the opportunity to do this again. I now know what I’m capable of so truly, I am unstoppable. But with Luna sick, it would be unfair of me to bring her with me here and put her through that stress. And I would never dream of leaving her behind. So that’s where my decision lies.

I’m going to take all I can from being here. I don’t regret this. I am still happy, but now there is just a touch of pain that I carry with me, too. But if I’m being honest with you, that pain just makes me feel more alive. Being happy all the time would be a crazy expectation of myself. And I am honestly beyond happy. This life is a dream. But my concern now is also real, and I’m just going to have to find a space for that in my life. Because that’s what life is about: making space for “negative” emotions but not allowing them to consume you and take over everything and all you do. It’s about understanding those emotions, living with them, acknowledging them, feeling them as a human being should, but still choosing to live each day passionately, recognizing the blessings in your life.

And all I can do is hope Luna waits for me before she runs off into the great dog park in the sky. My animals have a bad habit of leaving me when I am away – Elmo while I was working at an overnight camp, my bird Boe while I was on a cruise. She’s a big brat and a fighter so it’s hard to predict what avenue she’ll take when it comes to leaving her mum. I’m just blessed that I was able to be her forever home, her forever mum. My little sewer rat, garbage breath, stinkbean baby…


Post Scriptum:
Luna slept in her bed last night and woke up this morning, jumped out of bed, and went to eat. She is my little fighter. And my heart is a little calmer. I saw her on FaceTime again this morning. She’s back to her old self. Extra-affectionate, actually. So I feel a lot better, knowing she’s doing okay. It’s just a matter of keeping track of her episodes and making sure they don’t end up consuming her. She was like a zombie. It was terrifying to see. All I can hope is that maybe we can get lucky and she will never have another moment like the ones she went through yesterday. Please know that I am doing a lot better. Thanks for reading.


Post-Post Scriptum:
Friends: thank you for your comments of support both publicly and privately. Please note that this blog was written in a moment of intense vulnerability, fear, loneliness, and sadness early in the morning. I write in order that I may understand my emotions, process them, and let go of them. I am doing so, so, so much better today. And Luna is, too. But thank your love. I feel a lot less alone with all this digital affection.


5 thoughts on “Day 24 – The Challenge of Distance”

  1. I am new to your site. Two things: Happiness is not a place, but a condition. Animals, especially mammals, are a perfectly valid “family” for those people who love them. I loved my few days in Paris, four years ago, and will visit it again, in the not too distant future. I also have loved a variety of places, around the world-mostly in North America, but elsewhere as well. These places reflect my inner peace.

    Liked by 1 person

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