Take a breath

28 Sep

I’ve been thinking all week about Eva Markvoort.

Eva was a beautiful young woman who lived in Vancouver, Canada. She also suffered from a horrible disease – cystic fibrosis.

I’ve never told anyone this before, but Eva’s blog “65 Red Roses” inspired me to start “The Adventures of Jumping Jasper-Roo.” You see, she wrote about the day-to-day struggles of living with cystic fibrosis and made it OK to share your thoughts with the world as death crept closer.

Photo: Eva (from her blog “65 Red Roses”)

One entry of hers really stuck with me. Five days before her death while lying in a hospital bed she wrote:

“making the effort this evening to sit up in a chair
good to change positions
stretch different muscles
sending air to different pockets
mum asked what i miss?

i miss walking in and out of buildings
the feeling of air pressure change when you enter or exit a building
i miss getting in and out of cars
how your view changes when you sit at a different height
change really
i miss change…

hours of gasping for breath
waves of nausea lulling out into
hours of sleepiness once the meds have hit
leaving me daydreaming about stepping out of this room
just getting up
free of tubes and plugs
and walking out the door
pushing open doorways
skipping down the street
breathing free

It still brings tears to my eyes reading that today. I’m struck by the last part where she writes about simply walking out the door and breathing in the air. No cares. No worries. How often do we take the simple things in life like that for granted?

I’ve been thinking about Eva and this passage all week because Jasper’s circle is getting smaller and smaller and the outings shorter and shorter.

He used to play in the backyard and then sleep outside in the sun for hours on end. Now he just takes a few steps outside, does his business and walks right back in. We did take a nice walk around the neighborhood tonight that he seemed to enjoy, but mostly he’s just sleeping now. I sense the desire to keep up the fight is starting to slip away. I’m really sad to say that maybe it is for me, too.

My sister suggested I take a photo of J and his tumor so other who are reading this and are in a similar situation can see what we’re going through.

I can’t bring myself to do it.

Jasper was always such a gorgeous dog. In the dog park people would often come up to me and comment on how beautiful he was. Now it breaks my heart to see him being disfigured by this awful disease.

I will say, though, that the tumor started small and grew fast over time. In June it was the size of a golf ball, now the dimension is closer to a softball. The doctor said he’s seen dogs with tumors twice this size, but that’s hard for me to imagine.

Oh, and the skin covering the tumor has now started to bruise and crack and peel. The smell is also pretty bad, so I’ve moved Jasper’s crate from the bedroom to the living room. On top of all this, he’s now wearing an e-collar nearly 24-7 to keep from licking it and making it worse.

This is the part of dealing with cancer that really starts to break your heart. Seeing an animal (or person) you love in decline. The nausea, the loss of appetite, the weight falling away.

I keep asking myself if the time has come to say good-bye, but then I’m reminded of days like Sunday. I took Jasper to one of his favorite beaches on the St. Croix River and he was swimming and chasing rocks just like the old days, albeit a little slower this time.

So on we go. Trying to take it one day at a time. And trying to remember that we’re fortunate to be able to still walk outside and breathe the air, even if the walk is a little shorter and the pace a little slower.


3 Responses to “Take a breath”

  1. Shauna (Fido & Wino) September 29, 2010 at 5:34 PM #

    I don’t really know what to say- just wanted to say hugs to you guys 🙂

  2. melfr99 October 1, 2010 at 12:11 AM #

    My heart breaks reading your post today. I knew it would come. The end before the end. Tears today.

    Thank you for sharing Eva’s blog and her post. I had not heard of her, but when I read the last few lines I thought… that must have been how she felt when she left her sick and helpless body, got up and walked outside and just breathed. Free at last.

    Do you think that is how Jasper will feel? Free? Free to swim in his favorite place. Free to run and jump and chase. And, free to visit you wherever you are. I hope so. I like to think that would be the case.

    I am sorry for you and Jasper.

  3. Stephanie October 2, 2010 at 7:10 PM #

    Ditto on the hugs…….

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