The Loss of My Precious Haley

This month, we are introducing our new bloggers not only with their posts, but with a video!

Meet Tina:

By Tina Cameron

The loss of a pet is heartbreaking. It doesn’t matter the circumstances; a pet dying from old age; an illness such as cancer or the difficult decision to send them over the Rainbow Bridge to end their suffering–it is just heartbreaking. This is the story of my precious Haley who was in my life for almost 10 years. She loved food, her stuffed animals and stealing my pillow at night.And, unfortunately, was also sick most of her life.

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At eight months old, she had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease and seizures. At age two, she was diagnosed with liver failure and I was told she would not live past four. I was determined to have her time left with me to be just lots of snuggles, love and any food she wanted to eat. After a few months, we returned to the vet and there was no change in her liver enzymes but, she was still active and thriving, so I decided to change her diet myself since she refused to eat the specialty food from the vet anymore. Within three weeks, her liver enzymes were reduced by half. I was thrilled as was her vet. So, we carried on and still had the occasional Chick-fil-a run.FB_IMG_1510321410447

Year after year she continued to have elevated enzymes and birthdays. In October 2017 her liver enzymes were normal for the first time in 7 years. I was ecstatic since we had just celebrated her 9th birthday on September 20th, 2017. Fast forward to June 13th, 2018 at her next vet visit. She had begun losing weight despite eating like a pig. At the vet, while waiting to be seen, she became lethargic. She was seen right away and after her assessment was rushed for lab work and an x-ray. She had an enlarged heart, a heart murmur, severe constipation, low blood sugar (which explains the lethargy) and with Insulinoma, which is a rare malignant pancreatic tumor that causes low blood sugar, seizures, difficulty walking, and weight loss. She had all of these symptoms. The vet talked to me about options and that quality was more important than quantity.

The next twelve days were a blur as she had to be fed every four hours to keep her sugar elevated. She began to decline rapidly and started distancing herself from me in a way to prepare me for what was coming. On day 12, June 25th, 2018 I made the most difficult decision to put her down and to end her suffering. By this time, she was bleeding and vomiting bright red blood and refused to be syringed fed or watered.

On the way to the vet, we had the windows down, took selfies at red lights, and cranked up Miranda Lambert. She was smiling because I think she knew where we were going. At the vet, her IV was started, pictures were taken, and I wrapped her in her favorite blanket, held her and repeatedly told her through the tears it was okay to go and how much I loved her. The medications were given, and her suffering was over in a minute and a half.

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It has now been four weeks, I am still grieving and missing her every day. My other Yorkie– Peyton Manning is still grieving as well. Pets are our family. So, Haley, please know that you were/are my heart; my chick-fil-a loving, cheese and Pringles crunching loving sweet girl. You brought so much joy into our lives. You were sick more than you were healthy the 9 years, 9 months and 5 days you were on this Earth. You are finally free of pain and can run with all the sweet dogs, cats and bunnies in Heaven. My heart is broken but knowing you are happy and healthy gives me comfort. I will look after Peyton as she is so lost without you. I will love you furever my precious sweet girl.

The Final Chapter: Bittersweet

By: Roshanda Pratt

Within three weeks, I have seen two friends bury their parents.  Death is never easy.  The final chapter in a life, even if it is one well lived, never comes as easy, even if you are “prepared.”  The first home-going service was for the mother, of my friend, who had been battling cancer for a while.  Her service lasted well over an hour, an indication of the type of life Mrs. Green lived.  She was the loving mother of ten, a wife of 50 years, a community servant, and a pastor at her local church.  As each person eulogized her, the theme was the same; Mrs. Green was a caring, loving, and no-nonsense woman who would give you her last if that meant you had the best.  Mrs. Green was a woman worth emulating.  Unfortunately, Ms. Green was diagnosed with cancer.  She outlived many of the doctors’ reports.  And even as she fought this disease she prepared her family for her journey home.  Even in death she was still thinking of others.

My other friend buried her father last week.  Mr. Charles was diagnosed 8 weeks ago with cancer.  According to doctor’s reports, Mr. Charles was given 6 months to live.  My friend uprooted her family, moved back home to spend the final 6 months with her Daddy.  Mr. Charles would subcome to cancer.  He did not make 6 months.  At his home-going service, I learned Mr. Charles was a family man, active in church, kind to strangers and loved by many.

Life is precious.  Life is fragile.  Life is a vapor.

I do not know what it is like to lose a parent.  How do you prepare?  I have asked myself this several times especially over the past few weeks.  I don’t have a profound answer; just a thought that time is a gift.  Time is what I heard my friend, who lost her father so quickly, stated she wanted more of it.  Time can be our most precious gift.

I was a 13 year-old volunteer candy striper at my local hospital in New York.  I would sit with patients, help nurses, and deliver flowers and a few smiles.  I really liked the job.  One day I was helping a patient, a woman hooked up to an oxygen machine.  I felt for that lady, even as a 13 year-old, my heart hurt for her.  The nurse came in and asked me to help change her bed sheets.  As we began the process, her breathing became more labored.  The nurse turned to me, motioned for me to stop and said, as if she were the judge, “She is dying.” I was shocked.  Here I am holding this lady in my arms listening to her fight with her last breathe, eyes wide open looking right into mine. I was stuck.  At 13 years old, I wanted to run away!  I wanted to just deliver flowers and smiles, and now death has ruined that.  The nurse ran out the room to get the doctor.  I continued to hold this lady as she took her last breath.  On the inside I felt like she did not need to be alone in that moment.  She died.  The nurses on the unit called my mom, who comforted me. I left the hospital early that day and my job as a candy striper was short lived.  I never met her family.  I did not know much about her. I often wondered if she had any children or if she was married. I wondered if she was “ready” to die.  Who is ever ready to die?  I wondered if she had regrets.

I decided long ago never to live in regrets with loved ones.  I think the mourning process becomes difficult many times because there are unspoken words, unforgiveness, regrets and time lost.  Even as I think about the fact that my parents will die someday, I can say I have been the best daughter to them (I have repented for the teenage years. Smile.).  The old adage goes, “Give people their flowers while they are still living.”  I talk to my parents often and when I do, I tell them how much I love and appreciate them.  My parents may not have done everything right, but I am thankful for them.  I make sure they know it.  I am discovering parenting does not come with an instructional manual, but through the grace of God and His wisdom you can raise children.

I want when my parents leave this earth for my heart to be at rest.  I will miss them.  I will cry.  However, I will know I gave them the best of me when they were living.

Both of my friends gave their best of themselves while their parents were living.  I saw my friend pack up her home within a week, giving away what she could not take, selling the rest, transferring her children from their school to move two hours back home to be with her father in his last moments.  I have seen my other friend travel back and forth to spend time with her mother at the hospital and through chemo treatments.  They both served their parents well.

As my husband and I sat through their parents’ final celebration of life, I thought how I never really got a chance to meet their parents.  However, I felt like I knew them through their daughters.  Every story, joke and personal testimony described my two friends.  What an indication of a life well lived.  That is legacy.  So, as my friends deal with the difficult part of the holidays without their loved ones, I hope they can find some peace in knowing they served their parents well, and even though mom and dad are gone, they are still part of their lives by how they live it.

This story is dedicated to Sharranda and Denise. Although we hate to see a good book come to an end, however, a good book well written always inspires those who read it. Remember that in the weeks and months ahead. (Matthew 25:23)