Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Sad Announcement

Updated on 4/16, please scroll down


Trigger Warning:
Skip this one if you're not feeling strong today. Please.

I don't want to talk about this - I don't want to bring any of you down - but John tells me I've put this off for too long already. And you guys are our family, so you deserve to know. (Those of you who've already asked on social media and been ignored, please, forgive me.)

We lost Tonks last month to a sudden, fast-growing cancer.

Then Lily stopped eating, and we nearly lost her, too. I'm still fighting every day to bring her back to full health. There've been round-the-clock feedings, care, IVs, and more medications and vet visits than I can remember.

You may have noticed we've been throwing ourselves into a lot of new projects lately; all welcome distractions from our sleepless nights and many, many tears. I've needed this happy place more than ever, and I can only hope you won't brand me a hypocrite for reveling in the sweet & silly things while so much grief was happening here at home. The past two months have been unspeakably hard here, and to make it easier on me we've told no one, not even our family or friends. I just... couldn't talk about it. I'm sorry. Compartmentalizing the pain and stress was the only way I knew to move forward.

Hard details to follow. No need to read; I'm only sharing to assuage my own guilt and answer any questions you might have.

For Tonks, we spent over a month getting third and even fourth opinions from different vets, trying every treatment suggested - some twice. We spared no expense, no amount of effort. Everyone agreed all hope was lost, and soon the swift-growing cancer deforming her sweet dopey face began making it harder for her to eat, as she could no longer close her mouth. She still had happy times, and honestly seemed so healthy some hours it ripped us apart inside, but we refused to let her suffer and deteriorate further.

John and I sobbed our way through those last days, but we had an inner peace knowing it was the right call. Tonks was loved. She lived a shockingly healthy 9 years, never suffering, never wanting for chin scratches, always brash and ready to nuzzle strangers and friends alike. We gave her the best possible life, and I think she knew it.

We thought that was the end of our grief, but then within a few days, Lily began to die.

Lily never seemed dependent on Tonks - she seemed to tolerate her, at best - so when she abruptly stopped eating we were completely blindsided. Losing Tonks was hard. The thought of losing Lily, though - for me? Utter devastation.

Lily is... well, I don't have words. She is my everything. My everything. My comfort, my calm, my quiet joy. She runs to greet me every morning and spends 4-6 hours in my arms every day. She's on my shoulder or lap while I work and beside me on the couch while we watch TV. I carry her everywhere, have impromptu dance sessions through the office, even walk on the treadmill with her under my chin. Only John means more to me in this world.

I can write this now because Lily is almost herself again, but we spent Easter morning at an emergency vet (our 4th visit that week) bracing to hear a second death sentence and praying for a miracle. Lily was technically alive, but gone. She looked through me with no recognition, never meowed, could barely stand. I was beside myself with grief, while John was quietly panicking over me.

Mercifully, Lily began to improve - slightly - from there. Through sheer determination and an eye-watering amount of vet visits and bills, IVs, medications, and stubbornness on my part, we've brought Lily back to us. She's still not fully recovered, and I've been on a six-times-a-day regiment of syringe feeding and cajoling to keep her fed and hydrated, but she's back. She runs - well, jogs - to greet me again. She yells at us every morning, follows me all day, and clambers (albeit unsteadily) onto my chest every night. She grumpily accepts all her pills and potions and is even eating on her own again - though still not enough.

John asked me to stress that Lily is perfectly healthy other than her self-imposed starvation, so please don't think we've been hanging on to her and making her go through all these treatments without hope. She's recovering. She has her spark back, and looks us in the eye again to demand we pick her up. I don't know how much longer I'll have Lily - after all, she is 14 - but at least I've had HER with me again. At least I get a little more time with my spunky baby.

I hope you won't judge me too harshly for any of this, friends; for keeping secrets and for choosing to go on now in my future posts as if nothing has happened. Talking and dwelling on all this makes it a million times harder, and I need this happy place and to focus on happy things, now more than ever.

That's also why I'll be turning off comments on this post. I'm so sorry; I know some of you want to express condolences and support, but I need to shift my focus back to life and light. Hearing sympathy - or worse, stories of other pet tragedies - will only drag me back down into depression. So please, just give me a "heart" reaction on Facebook, that's enough. If you'd like to send some tangible support to help with this mound of vet bills, it would be dearly appreciated, but not needed. We'll be OK, financially and emotionally, I promise. Your being here, your being our friends and our community, our co-conspirators in all things silly and geeky and positive, that's the best support John & I could ask for.

So let's get back to it. Let's go make stuff and celebrate our passions. Let's hug our loved ones. Let's complain less and compliment more. Let's live it up, knowing life and love are precious.

For Tonks. 

And for ourselves.

UPDATE 4/16: