I feel like life gave us  a lemon.  Don’t get me wrong, I would never want to give it back.   This is MY lemon and I love it very much but it’s…well, it’s broken.  What’s frustrating is that no matter how many times I try to make lemonade, I just can’t get it right.  I need a new recipe.  Maybe I’m not adding enough sugar.  Am I not paying enough attention while I stir?  I want to fix it, but the harder I try the more I’m reminded that life gave me a lemon and I am failing miserably at making lemonade.

One night not too long ago I couldn’t sleep so I was doing some late night reading on the couch with my constant companion Oliver by my side.  I was absentmindedly petting him and trying to turn my brain off in the hopes of getting some sleep when my hand felt something odd on his neck.  I checked the other side and I felt it over there too.  I sat there wondering if maybe this was something that had always been there and I had never noticed it before.  But how could that be?  With all the time Oliver spends up in my face I don’t know how I could have missed that.  It felt as though his glands were swollen.  Like maybe he had a cold or a sore throat and needed a little Nyquil and would be good as new.  Do dogs get sore throats?  Come to think of it, I needed a little Nyquil too.    I opened my laptop, turned to my friend google and settled in for a long night of worry.

Ollie’s vet ran some tests and since his blood work looked good, we were sent home with an anti-inflammatory and an order to call back in 5 days to let the doctor know if the lumps had gone down.  They hadn’t.  In fact, they seemed to be getting bigger.  When I reported back Ollie’s doctor said he wanted to see us immediately.  After a test to rule out heart worms and exposure to ticks, I was told that they believe Oliver has lymphoma and has 2-6 months to live.  Huh?  Wha?  But that  blood test was normal?  And he just has swollen glands.  I looked at him laying on the floor taking a treat from Addie’s hand.  He was chasing his ball around the yard just this morning and he ate Addie’s waffle right off the table at breakfast.  It was hard to hear that Ollie was terminally ill when, hours earlier, he was outrunning my kid around the house.  I felt like I had been kicked in the chest.  I don’t remember how I collected Addie’s books from the exam room floor, or paid for our visit, or got all three of us home in one piece.

It’s been a long three days since hearing that news.    I am sitting in my living room looking at my dying (!?) dog and I am so angry.  I am angry because he’s only three and three year old dogs don’t have these problems.  I am angry because he’s been through more in 2009 than most dogs go through in their entire lifetime.  I am angry for selfish reasons too: because Addison is going to lose her best friend.  I am angry that I’m going to have to decide when to end his life and that is not fair.  That’s not what I signed up for.  It’s not fair because he’s only three and he’s a good boy.  A few weeks ago I dropped a bottle of wine onto the kitchen floor and a shard of glass flew into one of Oliver’s good legs.  He didn’t make a peep.  We didn’t even know he had been hurt until the mess had been cleaned up and we were sitting at the table eating dinner and noticed blood on the floor.  Ollie doesn’t complain, he doesn’t ask for much and he doesn’t expect anything from anyone. 

So I’m angry, yes.  But mostly, overwhelmingly, I am sad.  Oliver goes in for a biopsy tomorrow and I am praying that his doctor is wrong.  I am praying for a miracle.   I am praying that I don’t have to explain death to a two year old who, right now, is sitting on her best friend’s bed, putting a shiny purple necklace around his neck.  And I am, again, humbly asking for your prayers.  You really came through for us back in January when Oliver had his stroke and we thought we were going to lose him.  Whether you pray to God (or a few gods), or wish on a star, or rub a statue’s belly, or throw pennies into a fountain, could you please keep our boy in your thoughts while you do it?  Life gave us the sweetest lemon and we are not ready to give him up just yet.