If I Had The World To Give…

If I had the world to give, I’d give it to you
Long as you live…

Would you let it fall, or hold it all in your arms?

If I had a song to sing, I’d sing it to you
As long as you live, lullaby or maybe a plain serenade
Wouldn’t you laugh, dance, and cry or be afraid at the change you made

I may not have the world to give to you
But maybe I have a tune or two
Only if you let me be your world
Could I ever give this world to you

But I will give what love I have to give,
I will give what love I have to give,
I will give what love I have to give, long as I live.

If I had a star to give, I’d give it to you
Long as you live, would you have the time
To watch it shine, watch it shine
Or ask for the moon and heaven too? I’d give it to you.

Well maybe Ive got no star to spare, or anything fine or even rare,
Only if you let me be your world, could I ever give this world to you.
Could I ever give this world to you.

-Grateful Dead

I don’t know why this song came to me this morning as I thought about writing this post. I was planning to call it “Reflections” but for some reason this tune would not leave me. So there it is….

There is so much I want to say and so much that I feel… and no longer feel. It is so hard to put into words all that runs through my head constantly about the last few days. And the outpouring of love and support has been phenomenal and heartbreaking as well as much needed. Cody was a sweet sweet special boy and I miss him terribly. And I always will. My house is so very empty and quiet now. I miss the sound of his feet tapping behind me wherever I go, I miss coming home and his sweet face popping open the front drapes to see who it is, him running to get whatever toy he deemed appropriate to greet me with, I miss his snoring at night next to me, his whimpering when I would come in the door and kiss and rub his ears, his hugs and kisses… his incessant playfulness that never seemed to have an end to the game, just another toy that must be better than the last to continue the game because OBVIOUSLY it was the toy that tired Mommy out and not the game…

But when I think back over the last week I could not have asked for a clearer message from him and the universe. I asked him to either just go on his own when he was ready or to please give me a clear sign that he was ready so I would not have any doubts, and he did just that. Thursday as you all saw from the video, he was still with me. He was weak and tired but alert and interested and wanted to be here. Friday was a completely different matter altogether. I had been flushing him full of fluids for two days and he would not pee. When I could finally coax him outside his small amount of pee was almost brown it was so dark. He emitted this odor from his breath that smelled of urine. He was going into renal failure… he was becoming toxic… his kidneys were failing him. This fucking cancer ravaged him (pardon my language)… and it did it fast a furious. Just Monday he was running across the street with me and eating full meals. Tuesday he was not eating and barely moving.  Thursday he was still alert but so incredibly weak. And Friday he was so weak that he could not stand on his own and I carried him outside to pee, and had to assist him in turning over on his bed. He would rally a bit after I would force him to stand up to get him outside, even dragging his dog bed to the door, even out the door to the grass so it was not too far, and he would hobble to the grass where a few times he almost fell over and so I held him there. He would practically run, and not steady at all bumping into things, back into the house and collapse on his bed where he would pass out.

I turned his bed to face out the slider windows so he would see the day, and I watched him fading. Friday morning I called Steven Hazell of Veterinary Oncology at around 7:30am. He answered! I was shocked thinking I would simply leave him a message that it did not look good for Cody that day. I talked to him for a while and he held out hope that Cody would get through, but I knew he would not bounce back from this. I told him that I would try to get a blood sample for him so that at least they had some data to work with and that Cody’s run with the vaccine would not be for nothing. MAYBE it can help save another dog. Cody would want that… he loved everyone and everything.

As the day progressed and my boy was out cold most of it, the odor from him permeated the house. It was unmistakable. By the afternoon I called Doc… THE hardest phone call I have ever in my life had to make. And I feared the return call and the knock on the door all day. As the hours passed it was so clear that he was ready. His eyes would barely open, his breathing was labored, his odor was putrid, he would barely move. I would bounce the tennis ball in front of him, the one sure test of his life, and he would open his eyes and follow it but was not really there. I talked to him all afternoon, kissed his face and his head, told him how much I love him and will miss him and that he can go if he needs to … that I understood. I burned some California Mount Shasta sage that I have for very special moments and I cleansed the house and him in the Native American way… surrounding him in a clockwise circle and cleansing the evil spirits away… wishing him safe travels and an easy transition.

By 7pm he was so out of it I was actually relieved when Doc and Ryan from Clint Moore arrived. That is how ready he was. He had moved to the tile floor on a sheet that I laid there for him still looking out the slider, but he did not even acknowledge when Doc came in. He was breathing heavy and yellow snot was coming from his nose… renal failure. Fucking cancer.

Doc gave him a big shot of Valium and Cody’s eyes got big and wide and open… he never liked tranquilizers. I laid my head on his and kissed him and told him I was right there… that it was ok. We tried to get a blood sample but his blood pressure was so very low there was not much to take. Oh well… we did try. We always did our best. And then doc gave him the Phenobarbital… and as I laid my head on his and listened to him take his last breath I knew that i did the right thing. My sweet sweet baby boy… my monkey… my best buddy passed on peacefully and surrounded by more love than most humans have.

And we all cried. All of us. I love Dr Butzer. Doc loved Cody too. And as we sat there and petted him and waited for his soul to surround us we talked about him… and how special he was. The painting of him on my wall, the pool where he first learned to swim, the games we played in that living room with him, how he was never short on kisses for anyone and everyone.

It was beautiful…

Ryan and Doc took him up to Clint Moore for the night for me and I had the strangest night of my life so far. Pure emptiness. The sound of silence is deafening in my house right now. I picked up all his sheets and towels from the last few days and started a wash… and I washed his bed. I walked around the house pacing constantly ravaged with tears all night to where my eyes were swollen completely. And sadness with a sense of relief and then guilt for feeling relieved was the battle in my head. But that is normal and I was processing … and still am. I had a glass of wine that i could not taste and realized that I had not eaten all day. And then I went to bed around 10pm when I could no longer pace.

I slept fitfully and maybe for three hours. I woke up and at 9am on the dot I called Paws and Cherish and told them I was bringing him down to them for cremation. I called Ryan at Clint Moore and told him to expect me, and then I gathered up all Cody’s treats, his many many many vials of meds .  I had a dream that i wore his dog tags so I got those off f his collar and put them on a necklace that I have and wore them all day… the jingle of them sounding so much like my boy that throughout this entire day the sound gave me comfort. With two bags of supplies in hand I went and picked up my boy. I had his bed all nice and clean in the back of my car and when I got there I gave Ryan all the meds and treats. He said he would get them to the shelter and that made me happy. They loaded the boy in the back of my car and without going into too much detail it was weird and not him… but he was still beautiful and peaceful.

I took him down to Linda and William who are wonderful. We put him in the viewing room and I arranged him with his tennis ball. Linda got his foot impression in clay for me and picked out a perfect urn for him… earthenware ceramic with paw prints on it. And then we said goodbye to his body… and we left. I threw his bed in a dumpster as it was soiled and realized I did not want to be at home. Home hurts.

So I went to the beach all day yesterday and healed my heart in the warm waters of Florida. A beach where I had taken Cody and he dug holes and ran with a piece of driftwood that i still have on the front step. And then I went to a good draft house and had a delicious beer appropriately called a Left Hand Milk Stout,,, since I have Cody’s left paw print on my left foot… and in the condensation on the outside of the glass I wrote his name on it. A delicious beer in his honor with his name on it! Salude!

I know I had said this before that I was worried about “playing god”… but that is not the case now. After going through all of this I realize I did the right thing by him, that it could not have gone any better or more perfect and beautiful. I kept my promise to him and he did not suffer longer than he had to to let me know he was ready, and even then I don;t think he was in pain. I think he was tired. Incredibly horribly tired. I could see in his face that he wanted the ball, but just couldn’t… and gave up trying. THAT was when I knew.

One of the things Doc, Ryan, Tim and I talked about as we sat there after it was done petting him was that Cody was all about “you”. He was not one of those dogs that when he got his toy would run off to a corner and hoard it. He wanted YOU to play with him, regardless of the toy (preferably a tennis ball but he would take whatever). And knowing this about him, I know he would want me to be happy because he loved me unconditionally and more than anyone. He was a Mama’s boy and I am damn proud of it.

And in that regard he wants me to be happy. He knows I am no longer consumed with worry for him, and that even though I will miss him terribly I am relieved that his illness is done and he is now running free and healthy waiting for me to meet him someday again. I know this… and he does too. He also knows that I would have continued to care for him and do everything in my power until the end of time if that was what it took. And I did.

I have a lot of free time in my heart, my mind and my life now. I am not sure what I will do with it. It feels like emptiness today… but I feel like there is purpose in this journey. Yesterday while I was having my Cody beer and cheering him, I thought that if I had the money, if I hit the lottery or something, I would open a Canine Cancer Center. It would be a place with of course veterinary treatments both clinical and holistic, dietary and whole body, eastern and western medicine and of course the vaccine trials… but it would also be a place for their owners as well. Where we could all talk and relate and get the guidance we need to go through this with our loved ones and find the support and advice we need. And it would also be a place where if we needed to go away for the weekend just to rejuvenate, the Center would take Cancer Care of the special patient without worry that his regimen may not be followed correctly.

I would call it Cody’s Place… and it would be our legacy.

Anyway that is enough for now… I have four chapters of Psychology I have to read and absorb today and online quizzes to take and a test on Thursday on all of it… and I have not even really started. I have been a bit distracted this week.  This blog is not done… there is so much more to our story… this is not the end….

Thank you everyone for your support. We love you all for it…

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~ by Michelle Sammartino-Zeto on July 1, 2012.

8 Responses to “If I Had The World To Give…”

  1. You are a strong woman my dear. All I am doing right now is crying. Please stay strong and I look forward to hearing so much more. Thank you for sharing<3

  2. Michelle my heart breaks for you! You

  3. I am very sorry for your loss.

  4. I felt your pain very clearly as I read this, for I was reliving the loss of my “mostest and bestest” in September of 2007 to mast cell cancer. I still think about him every day. Please accept my sincere condolences for the loss of your beautiful friend Cody.

  5. You’ve learned and taught us so much. I hope this site stays up with others that have documented canine cancers – it’s going to be very useful for people who feel so alone when a pet is sick (you’re not supposed to talk about it, right? These social rules need some updating, huh?) and they are suffering not knowing what to do.

    The web offers us a wonderful service – to create a repository of information. I think trading medical information – treatment and information exchange – for people and pets is one of the great benefits. Michelle, you’ve lived your pain openly. I’m not sure I could have stuck to it consistently. You are a very talented and passionate woman and I’m so glad to have had the chance to know you and Cody from afar. Once you’ve taken some time to grieve Cody, I hope we’ll hear from you again. Even if it’s just to let us know how you are doing day to day. Now, take care of you! A little wine, lots of sleep. You deserve it. Cheers, all the best. Alex

  6. I came across your blog purely by accident when I was googling Leukeran. I have a 7 year old lab named Tralee that is fighting mast cell certomas througout her body. She has had multiple surgeries, been on different types of chemortherapy and other drug treatments and we have never been able to get the cancer under control. At this point we are keeping her on a regiment of drugs to keep the cancer from growing too aggresively so we can keep her as long as possible. Often times I have felt like my husband and I are being selfish by keeping her here. I have had so many questions and concerns about our treatment with our special girl. I must say that I have found some peace after reading your posts. It is nice to see someone else’s point of view that has had to deal with this and I have found some renewed strength because of you. So thank you. I know that I am doing what is right for my husband and I, but mostly for Tralee now. Your writings were the reminder that I needed to confirm that.

    • One more thing… I’m sure if Cody was able to talk he would have thanked you for being such a good mommy. There aren’t enough people like you that find such a great connection with their pets. Be proud that you are special in that way.

  7. Hi Corinne,

    It really makes me so happy to know that this blog can help someone else who is going through this ordeal. I am sure if you have read through my various posts you saw that I had my own battles with my choices… but the one thing that I still look back upon and know with complete certainty is that Cody wanted to be here with me… until he did not. And like i said in this post which is the hardest one I had ever written… he let me know when he was done.

    Tralee is seven, just like Cody was when he passed on. It is SO young and they are so robbed of their prime at that age. It is cruel. All the time and love you put into getting them through their crazy puppy and teenage years… when they finally settled into themselves… they both got sick. But the wonderful thing about that age is they are so easy to read. The energy they have is how they are feeling and not crazy puppy energy, it is true and accurate in how they are feeling. Cody had his up days and his down. Take comfort in that she will will tell you when she needs a break or rest or is ready for play, and when she is ready to end her battle… and until she does you know she does not want to go anywhere. Labs LOVE life, they love their humans, and they LOVE unconditionally.

    You are doing the right thing. I had to keep going. I had to know I tried everything and that I got the most time I could with him. I know exactly how you feel.

    And thank you for your kind words. They mean a lot to me.

    If you ever have any questions about meds or whatever, do not hesitate to contact me. And hang in there!

    xoxoxoxox,

    M

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