still some things to do before getting to the circus

April 10, 2008

And so we are back to departure day minus one as everyone said a tearful goodbye to Phoebe the sweet. At eight, after dropping Janet’s car at the garage for some last minute ‘before I depart’ repairs to make it perfect for her. Then taking her to work I return put the protective sheets on the back seat and load Phoebe’s sad little bony body in. She with only a vague light in her eye; eyes sunken into a skeletal body once plump and barrelly with portly good health. Obviously she knowing the outcome of the journey but allowing me the dignity of not forcing her into the car. Then sitting trying to smile as Daniel in towel and toothbrush in mouth says tearful goodbye and Miriam too, trying not to cry and saying ‘I’m sorry’. Then driving out to the vet. No more than three or four minutes drive. Into the surgery. Her onto the table; the staff sympathetic and quietly going efficiently about the business of kindness. Onto the table; shaved leg, the noise a bit scary for Phoebe. Then holding her head close, allowing the gunk from her eyes to go onto my shirt and whispering in her hear what a beautiful dog she is and how good what a good girl and not to be scared and its going to be okay and she resting her head as the needle goes in. slight flince and me tightening grip and she calm and the plunger plunging and then she gently giving weight and then allowing herself to sink and me taking her weight and sinking with her through tears and sobs to hold her head and arrange her legs to not be awkward. Then the light drifting out of her eyes and her weight given fully to my arms. My sobs call the vet’s attendant to bring a pack of tissues. I use them to wipe the gunk away from her eyes which mixes with my tears on her face. Oh Phoebe you beautiful sweet kind and loyal dog. Goodbye. Wow the pain. A nod from the vet; she’s gone. The stethoscope put away. Her heart stopped. But then some last spasms of her diaphragm and sudden breaths taken in. Two three and then silent. More sobbing. A hug from the attendant. Comforting words and reassurance. Some discussion about her place of burial. Spca; R60 mass grave. (Dig it mama.) R100 her own grave with mark so for visits. Or doggy funeral home. No not that indignity for Phoebe. Just her own grave. ‘We’ll charge you later. Don’t worry.’ Walk the gauntlet past the reception and other pet owners as I walk and try to hold back the sobs until I sit in the car and let them go. They come from deep. Deep satisfying gratifying sobs of sadness. I find myself loving them. Grateful for the intensity of them the agony of grief expelled in voice. The way Zeke does every time we go to work. Driving and sobbing and wailing, I go home and try to pick up the trail of what I have to do today. Take Daniel to work drop in to Janet to share but wrong. Why bring it to her office; she not able to let go there. But I didn’t go there for her I went there for me to be with her and tell her I had done it. Then home.

 But that was just the first hour or so of departure day minus one…

 

And so onto later in departure day minus one; back in the afternoon get a call from Bettina of cirque asking where I am and if I had received a voice mail from the consulate informing me that the visa was ready from the 25th already. No, no voice mail. But whatever, what happens now? Now what happens is Bettina gets onto the travel agent and tries to get me on the same flights as Daniel except that I have to stop in Pretoria and pick up my visa. So she gets busy and I start to seriously pack in anticipation of the suddenly-so-soon departure. In a way a relief knowing when, but a bit sudden for Janet. I fetch her after her theatre making class at 5.30. ‘Brace yourself’ I say; ‘news has come. We both go tomorrow.’ She guesses and tears creep into the edges of her eyes. Has been in denial she says. I think writing now at the airport and 36 hours after leaving that it won’t hit for a while because she has had someone with her since I left; Cassie and now Karen. Well I need to stay in touch. I mean not for her exclusively but for me as well. Quanita used to mock me over my janet skype cold turkey.

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