Sunday I lay on the couch for hours. Not really watching the Jesse Stone trilogy, but rather using it as an excuse not to move. My eyes stared blankly at the tv screen; my thoughts were elsewhere. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’m losing everything. Like watching a movie unfold that you’ve already seen, I laid there picturing the ending. Sully was gone, my marriage was over, the house had been sold, but where was I? I couldn’t see myself, my future. Was I gone too?A song kept playing in my head: Buffalo Tom’s “Late at Night”. What did it mean?
My husband had left hours earlier. He took Sully with him. All the weeks of worrying, crying, begging for resolution finally took it’s toll on me. I told him to leave, go to his dads for a couple of days till his vacation time was up, and take Sully with him. I needed a break. I needed a break from watching him die. He’d taken a turn for the worst Saturday night and I just lost it. I couldn’t do it anymore. So he’d left, he did, but returned later. I could hear him fumbling with the lock and opened the door for him. I could smell alcohol on his breath. He hadn’t gotten far, only to his buddies in the neighboring town. He whispered, “Tomorrow. Doc Ed is coming out and going to put him down tomorrow.”
I could’ve reminded him that the following day was the anniversary of Beth’s passing, but I didn’t. He explained that he realized it was time while they were over at his friends when Sully had a coughing/gagging fit that knocked him over, and that while down he started shaking and my husband said he thought for a moment he was seizing up. It was then he called his friend, the local vet, and asked him to take on the difficult task at hand. I could’ve reminded him what day it was that he was choosing to put Sully down, but I didn’t. In a way it seemed poignant that he would join Beth on the day that she had passed, so I let it go. He had finally made the decision and I wasn’t going to risk his changing his mind again by postponing it.
I didn’t sleep much Sunday night, and Monday seemed to just be going through the motions. My husband too. Several times we found ourselves just sitting in the living room, not speaking, but lost in thought; waiting for the call that Doc Ed was on his way. My husband had gone out in the morning, found a spot under the tree near the swing in the very back of the yard, and dug the hole. Sully stayed inside with me. He seemed so tired. I started drinking. By afternoon the weather was beautiful so we took him out in the yard with his blanket. We decided that was where it should be done. If he knew what we had planned he didn’t let on. He just sat in the shade, letting the cats hover round and nuzzle him, and we waited. By then the alcohol had kicked in and began to numb my pain.
Sully died early Monday evening on the blanket that he loved, surrounded by those that loved him the most. It was as it should be. Doc Ed was overwhelmed with emotion, crying as he checked Sully with the stethoscope, then walked away without a word, got in his truck and left. My husband asked me if I needed anything. I whispered the words “Jack Daniels”. He left. I sat with my boy on that blanket till he returned. He still felt so warm. I kept thinking that he was just sleeping and was going to wake up at any time, but he never did. Evening came quickly and gave way to darkness. The two of us buried our boy together by the light of a tiki torch. I sat on the ground shoveling the dirt in by hand as my husband wielded the spade. I couldn’t help thinking as we walked away after, that I was leaving him behind and he should be following us into the house. That, and nothing would be the same again.
I’ve grown to hate my husband over these last painful weeks. His lack of emotion and sensitivity apalled me. I’ve asked myself many times lately how I could love someone that doesn’t care about anyone or anything. The more I asked myself this, the stronger the feeling I had that after Sully was gone I would be too. Then something happened yesterday. The loss triggered something in my husband, and he became a real person. He sat on that swing then walked the length of the drive carrying something in his hand next to his chest. When he came in the house he put it on top of the fireplace and I realized that it was a mason jar full of dirt. Dirt from the grave. It was all he had left of Sully to take for a walk. My husband cried. Sully had done the impossible. He’d touched my husband’s heart. Maybe he was the only one that ever would, but at least I now knew he had one.
Today he went back to work and I’m sitting in a very quiet house. Sully’s bed still lay in front of the fireplace and I’m not ready to move it yet. I’m not ready to do anything yet. I’m still trying to figure out how to restart my life without my boy. I’ve always believed the “When one door closes another opens” theory, and that loss happens when your life needs to make room for someone or something else that is quickly approaching. I wonder now what my life is making room for. What is so important that Sully couldn’t be spared?