Today my saint bernard Bruno had a grand mal seizure. Since December of last year, he has been having seizures and was soon diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy. His enormous body’s weight leads to regular contusions, albeit mild, when the convulsions happen. He is terrified and disoriented , usually unable to walk properly or stand for minutes after.
But now I am used to it. I know soon before a seizure is about to begin. I position myself around him strategically and hold him to prevent him for hurting himself. We get through it, I hug him when it’s over – in part to comfort him, and in part to keep him from moving around and falling. I talk to him gently and rub his ears. I always tell him it’s ok.
But today the seizure was especially bad. Long and powerful. Eventually, his trachea collapsed. He stopped breathing. I saw it and stared at it. The chest not moving. No breath. At this moment I felt as if I was not inhabiting my body. I could not feel my body. I could not feel my legs, my hands, my face–I wasn’t there. I had a passing thought: so this is how it happens and it happens now?? I know I thought it, knowing it’s a possibility, but I still didn’t believe it; almost as if I had left the tangible facets of living and now had no basis for believing highly probable events. It was too destructive: he cannot be dead. I felt consuming fear: what if I can’t save him?
As I was sitting in the ER lobby of the vet hospital, crying, waiting, I thought what it would feel like to know he had died. I felt I knew him so well, really well. He is in my life. I love him deeply. And while, as I think is more often the case with humans, there is never a state of non-conflicting emotions even about our loved ones, it’s easier for an animal to be experienced as pure good. And this is how I experience him. Without the conflict of ambiguous emotions that somehow sustains you during grief, this was a simple case–something purely good and sweet and trusting would be lost from my life. I felt sick.
They saved him. Intubated and got him to breathe again. Hours later I took him home, crying over him, holding him, treating him as if he had never been treated like gold before. I loved him so much–I love him so much. I would miss him so much. Pure good; kind heart; my darling love. Animal companion. I am still crying.