Flowers for Cousin Jack

Last night, Cousin Jack was by my side as he had been for such a long time.  I prayed, as I have prayed for the last thirteen months, for God to prepare us for the day that Cousin would depart time for Eternity.  Cousin was diagnosed with Dementia February, 2012. The doctor gave him a prescription for the dementia and told me that he would probably improve, but for only about eight months.  We got five months more than expected and although I was beginning to notice a declination, Cousin was doing well.

Yesterday, I came home from PT around four o’clock. Cousin was happy to see me, and he just wanted me to get settled so he could sit in my lap, because he wanted to be with me every moment of every day. I was watching General Hospital when I noticed the Cousin begin to get a little restless. I adjusted him a few times and he got comfortable for a few minutes, but he quickly became restless again, so I sat him on the floor, thinking he might be thirsty.

Cousin’s hind legs were dragging. I thought maybe he had a cramp that would go away in a few minutes, but it didn’t take long to realize that something had happened to him. I scooped him up, and carried him to Robert.  I told Robert that it was time for Cousin Jack to go to Heaven.  Robert wanted to take a look for himself and he knew that this was our last precious moments with Cousin. He called Mother and I called the doctor.  It was 5:30 and the doctor closes at six. We had to move fast because if we didn’t get Cousin to the doctor before six, he would suffer until morning.

Robert drove, and I sat in the back holding the Cousin. He kissed me one last time and Danny started singing “Last Kiss.”  I had it together until then. I told Cousin the same thing that I had been telling him for the last thirteen months.  I told him that he would go to Heaven, and that Michael would be there with Jesus when he arrived.

Dr. Bower was so compassionate.  He is the same doctor who removed Cousin’s cancer in 2008. Dr. Freeman told us in 2008 that Cousin’s cancer was deadly and he had little chance of living more than a few months. That year, I befriended Dr. Ron Mollet, a veterinarian in OKC.  I met  Ron at “The Biting Sow,” in Bricktown. He was a veterinarian by day and a Blues Hound by night.  Ron agreed with Dr. Freeman.  We watched Cousin closely as instructed and he continued to thrive for almost five more years.

Dr. Bower told us that Cousin had a stroke. He said he could treat him if we wanted to try to keep him a little longer.  I said that Dr. Freeman would tell me not to do that.  She would tell me that it’s time to let him go. I know that because she told me in February 2012 that the dementia medicine would give us about eight months but there wasn’t anything we could do to “stop” the inevitable. Dr. Bower understood, and agreed that we were making the best decision for Cousin Jack.

One of the assistants prepared a box for us to carry him home in, because we didn’t have time to get anything together. Dr. Bower gave Cousin a shot to make him fall asleep and told us to say good-bye and that he would return in about five minutes to euthanize Cousin. We had a pleasant last five minutes with the Cousin and he fell asleep in my arms. I was holding him and treasuring the warmth of his body and the beat of his heart.

Dr. Bower and his assistant returned and they said that they would take care of this final act of compassion because he doesn’t know that I am there. I told the doctor that we had been preparing for this day for a long time, and that I promised Cousin that I would hold him during his final moments.  I held him and I cried. I told him that I loved him and I prayed. I told God to make sure that Michael would be there waiting when Cousin arrived.  I asked the Holy Spirit to comfort us, and Dr. Bower gave Cousin the injection. The moment was truly merciful and miraculous.  Cousin was there in my arms so soft and warm and I kept my hand on his heart so that I could linger in the last seconds of his life as long as I could make those seconds last. It wasn’t really seconds. In no more than a second, Cousin left my arms and he was in Heaven in Michael’s arms.

We brought him home, to Old Town North. He was born in Old Town and now he is buried in Old Town. The house where he was born is a few blocks away.  His grave his next to the storm cellar here, on Dearborn.  The apartment where he spent most of his life is only a few feet from the house where he spent his last years.

We have no power over life and death.  Dogs teach us how to love and how to let go. I spent the last thirteen months learning how to let go of Cousin. He expected me to always take care of him and if he was sick, he knew that I would get him help to recover.  I couldn’t do anything about March 21, 2013. That day was always going to be the day that Cousin died.

November 1998 to March 2013. I met him for the first time Christmas Day of 1998.  Taco Bell was selling bobble head chihuahuas that were the exact size that the Cousin was that Christmas.

He loved us so deeply and so genuinely pure. Michael in Cousin are in Heaven and I know that when I see them, that no time will have passed.  Cousin, I miss you and I love you.  I treasured every moment with him. I knew the moments would end.  I held on to the seconds with all of my might, but Cousin’s last day was always going to be March 21, 2013.  I loved him. I am thinking of him now, and I’m smiling.