He ain’t heavy …

I’ve never held my breath for 24 hours before … maybe I’ve been lucky. Loss, death, pain, desperation, tragedy, all the vile, dark, sickening facts of life … I’ve had those in spades. And all delivered like lightning, quick and fast and to the point. There’s a liberating clarity when you’re struck with that level of intensity all at once. Steel striking flint makes sparks that, intense as they are, fade away as quickly as they were born. You know what has happened and what is happening and what is to happen. You have direction, and your compass still points north.

Worse is the sinkhole, the quicksand, the mire … a smarter or more worldly man might suggest La Brea … of not knowing whether the next time the phone rings is the last time they will call. You stay still, not daring to breathe … not blinking, even … on eggshells when you dare to hazard the smallest step. Wanting and not wanting, something, anything, to happen, to occur, in some way, even undoubtedly cruel, to punctuate this particular sad slice of reality. Something to stop the compass spinning so endlessly and pointlessly, to let the needle fix, if not north, anywhere at all.

And so it was last night and today: the long wait, and I am not a patient man by anyone’s standards, which makes it seem much, much longer. BUT … I heard the most joyous words I’ve ever heard in my life earlier tonight: “He looks a *lot* better than last night, he even chewed out his catheter, completely destroyed the thing, and in my book, that’s a good thing. I’m going to leave him off the fluids tonight and keep some food with him to see if he’s ready to eat.”

Those were the words of Harold Reece, DVM, who graduated from Auburn University with his veterinary degree in 1968. Yes, 1968. The tech who answered the phone, on a Sunday, when the hospital is closed, told me that Dr. Reece carried Dexter up onto the roof a couple times today, so that “Dexter could get some fresh air and sun.”  That man is a hero. In fact, all of the doctors and staff at Gold Coast Animal Hospital have been so wonderful; they’re a part of Dexter’s family. I sometimes call them Dexter’s Heroes because of everything they do for him.

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother …

You should listen to The Hollies now.

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