This week as we made the painful decision to say goodbye to Shadow I have been reflecting on saying goodbye to Scott. I realize that the situations are vastly different, but both have the universality of death. I think Scott’s death has shaped the decisions that we have made with Shadow. One major difference is that with Scott’s death we had no warning and with Shadow’s death it was an uncertain time frame due to the uncertain speed of the tumor. I talked with my mom about the stress of an impending death with the uncertainty of time frame. It left us in a constant feeling of being suspended, waiting and watching for the end. That uncertainty took its toll, at times just wishing for it to be over, yet in the next breath feeling guilty for wishing Shadow was gone. So many of our memories of Shadow and Scott are tied up together, so losing Shadow was like losing a chunk of Scott’s heart — he loved Shadow so much. I have thought about how hard this would have been for him, facing these difficult decisions for Shadow.
Christmas evening was when we really saw a down turn for Shadow. Jaelyn had made plans with her aunt and uncle to spend Sunday night through Wednesday evening at their house in Shippensburg. We talked before she left about the possibility that I would have to make the decision to let Shadow go while she was away. She felt that she was okay with that as long as I let her know what was going on. Yet today, after a day to think about the definite plans, she changed her mind. I am beyond grateful that, virtually in the moment, without hesitation Aunt Deanna packed her up and brought her home at Jaelyn’s request so that she could see Shadow one last time. I talked with her about the process and that she needed to think about whether she wanted to be in with Shadow at the end. She told me that she didn’t want to be. I told her that was okay, that she could stay in the waiting room at the vet’s office.
When we got there, they took us back to a special room and explained the process and exactly what it would look like and what to expect. After they took Shadow out to start the IV, Jaelyn changed her mind and decided to stay. I was surprised, but reminded her that if she got uncomfortable at any point, she could just get up and go out to the waiting room. Shadow refused to lay down on the blanket, so the vet asked us what we thought about giving the medicine while she was standing, explaining that once the sedative hit her system, her body would just sink down. I agreed, knowing how stubborn Shadow could be. She sank into my arms with Jaelyn stroking her back as she took her last breaths. We took a few minutes to cry over Shadow while the tech did a paw print in clay for us to take home. In reflecting back over the evening while talking with my dad on the phone, I think that not being able to say goodbye to Scott or be with him in his last minutes definitely influenced both of our decisions to be there, holding, and petting Shadow as she left this earth. And maybe in some small way it was a way of saying goodbye to Scott as well.