In the past week, I have gotten many phone calls, email, face book messages and even visits from people who cared for our family while we grieve for my husband, their father.
People asked and I shared Mark's story so many times, I can almost tell it without tears, but there is even more to the story. A wonderful love story.
First of all, I was Mark's great love, but Arnie, his dog, loved him unconditionally. Arnie came into our lives when he was 2, in 2000. It was not love at first sight, but it quickly became a love story.
Every weekend, Mark and Arnie would make countless trips to Lowes. Actually, anywhere you went in the car was Lowes and Arnie was happy just to be going with Mark. Week after week, Wendy's frosty after Frosty, they loved to hang out together. Some weekends, Arnie would just sit in the van in case Mark wanted to take him somewhere!
Mark had a home office. The most important piece of office furniture was a dog bed, They spent hours in there, Mark working, Arnie napping. They loved to spend weekends at the river where the neighbors commented that Arnie followed Mark everywhere!
About 2 months ago, Arnie seemed to be losing his appetite and dropping weight. I took him to see our vet and she discovered that he had a 'significant' heart murmur and advanced kidney failure. She was surprised he was alive and told me that we needed to have a talk, a check list of signs that he no longer had quality of life and when to declare that no heroic measures were to be performed.
I really knew that it was very close to that, but because Mark loved that darn dog so much, I felt I could not spring it on him in that way. I asked her about the possibility of keeping him comfortable through the weekend so Mark could say good bye.
It was not easy, not for me, not for Mark. I had to medicate Arnie several times a day, give him a liter of sub cutaneous fluid 3 times daily and prepare special foods. It was more difficult for Mark. He had to leave on Monday on a business trip. He was sure that Arnie would be gone when he got home.
That darn dog rallied! By Monday he was walking around, by the end of the week, his tail was wagging. By time Mark came home, he met him at the door. Our vet warned us that kidney damage was not reversible, so we made up our minds to treat him to favorite foods, let him sleep on the sofa, rub his ears and make the most of the time we had left.
The day after we came home from Washington, the day before he died, Mark commented that Arnie hadn't eaten. Mark and I went out to dinner and then took Arnie on a long, slow walk down to the river. On Saturday morning, Mark said he still was not eating. We didn't say it, but we knew it was probably time.
Time...a funny thing. By noon, Mark was gone. Andy and I left the hospital and went to get Arnie. We knew then...it was time.
On Monday afternoon, Andy, Tony, Morgan and I took Arnie to the vet's office. Dr. Leia, the techs and our family cried as we said good bye to Arnie.
In a way, they were lucky. Neither had to mourn the other. In another way, we are blessed. We are the keepers of the memories.
Hard to believe they are gone. We miss you, Mark and Arnie.