Yesterday was a weird day.
The Alumni Association held a lunch for donors and scholarship recipients. I was a recipient and it was a great lunch. I normally would have enjoyed myself silly at an event like that. But I kept watching the clock, just wanting to get out of there and go home, so I could be with Jackson before he left us.
The very first time John and I spoke on the phone, he was walking Jackson at the time. During those early, heady days on Journalspace, John wrote a lot about how much comfort Jackson used to give him, wagging his tail so hard that his whole back half got involved in the party. When John used to call us, John used to make Jackson "speak" for Derek. "Speak" for Jackson meant bark. When Der realized that Daddy had a "voice" for Jackson and "translated" what Jackson's thoughts were, that's what Der wanted to hear whenever he asked Daddy to make Jackson talk.
Up until last night, I thought John invented that voice for Derek. He informed me that he'd had it since he got Jackson because he looked like a dog who had a lot to say but would never really say it well. Like Jackson would threaten to call the ASPCA on us, but never used the same set of letters twice: PSBPA, ASQFA, DSDFA, etc. Needless to say, we never really took those threats seriously.
I'd never had a dog and people didn't really have inside dogs where I came from. When I moved here, I had to walk Jackson every day. I found it a great way to explore the neighborhood. He and I would walk all over the place. For a while, I used to take him to off-leash time at Central Park and watch him try to not hump other dogs. I was home for a long time and Derek wasn't the only one who got attached to having Mummy at his fingertips. I really didn't realize it until Kayrein came to visit and noticed that Jackson followed me everywhere. If I went to the bathroom, he would sit outside the door till I was done showering or whatever. Even if I just went in for a Q-tip, I had to close the door to get to it, and he would just plop himself outside the door and wait.
Over the years, he was just there - our underfoot dog who invariably tried to kill me in the kitchen by insisting on being in-between my legs as I tried to move about. He came to bed with me every night and got up with me every morning.
These last 3 months were painful and heartbreaking. John and I were fairly desperate at what to do and John really needed to try anything and everything to see if it would work. We agreed that we were not going to see him suffer if the meds just slowed the decline. That would be agony. The last couple of weeks were bad and the last three days were worse. Jackson was on so many meds and they seemed to have him more wired than sedated. He was nervous, tense, and confused and it was pretty clear that we had to bite the bullet.
As I was sitting at the lunch, being feted and questioned by the alums and classmates, I wondered what it would be like to come home to no dog. I couldn't see it. Jackson has been a part of my life and home and family and I just couldn't picture his absence. I really just needed to get out of there.
I picked up Derek from school and we met John at the vet's. I'll just cut to the chase now. The vet gave Jackson a sedative, a really strong one because she was concerned that since he didn't take to the sedatives, she had to give him enough to "fell a horse." We gave him as many treats as he could eat, and when he pushed away the last one in my hand, we knew.
He lay down by my feet and I eventually got down on the floor and lay down beside him. The vet brought a blanket and John lifted him up and put him on it and I knelt down beside him and stroked his head while she gave him the final shot. I don't remember when I started to cry, but when she said that he was gone, I was a mess. I think John was crying, too, but trying to comfort me. I gave Jackson a kiss and et my last mouthful of pet hair.
As we were leaving, the vet said that they take a paw print of pets in clay and bake it and we can have it as a memento of out Jackson. We will remember the time he stepped in Mariano's paint tray and walked white paw prints around the living room and I had to take him outside and force him to walk in rain puddles to wash it off. We will remember the time he swallowed a huge rib bone. We will remember the times he ran from small dogs. We will remember our big, silly dog who couldn't remember the ASPCA.
I love you, Jackson. Chase that squirrel.