Essays · Health · Life

Six Months Later ….

Warning: There are some very raw emotions on this blog post that deal with Toby’s death.

Today is exactly six months since Toby passed away. Six months since I watched him die right in front of me in the bed I placed him in on my Dad’s kitchen floor.

It feels like it was yesterday.

That image of him dying while I stood over him in my Dad’s kitchen replays in the back of my mind almost every single day. The sound of my voice when I called the vet’s office to tell them he died and I needed to bring him in immediate so they could extract a lymphnode to send to Cornell is fresh in my head.

I know it may sound odd, but it literally feels like yesterday. I can see his furry face snuggled next me. I feel myself cringing when I read a Facebook post about someone who is going through lymphoma with their dog, but always make sure to lend an ear of support. I respond to questions about how many dogs I have by just stopping short of saying three, before I realize it’s really only two.

I feel like  Toby is not gone, he is just temporarily not here. I know, weird.

Yet, at the same time, it feels like it’s been years since I watched Toby take his last breath. So much has happened since he died, which makes it seem like it wasn’t yesterday. My purpose – working to just keep him alive – is no longer a thing I need to plan around, worry about or cry about.

Honestly, I think about him and that day every single day. If there was a pill that would erase that memory in my head, I might just take it, no matter what the side effects. On the other hand, that memory changes the way I think. It makes me want to spend every waking moment with Maddux and Bear, because it will never be enough. No matter how much time I have with them, whether it’s 3 years or 18 years, it will never be enough.

The tough part about this, is that it’s hard to explain to other people. It’s hard to explain why you can’t get out of  bed in the morning because you are having flashbacks to your dog shaking as he took his last breath, similar to how you watched your great grandmother do the same thing. It’s hard to explain the tears that flow from your eyes when someone tells you Toby made a different in their life, like inspiring the to adopt a “toby of their own.”

There are so many times where it’s the most heartbreaking and heartwarming feeling at the same time.

I think about that damn dog Both good and bad, ironically. For example, my property manager came to my house to take some photos and Bear and Maddux, who were both in their crates, barked at first but then calmed down as soon as I said it was okay.

Immediately, I thought how Toby would never have done that. He would have been barking, growling and going insane in his crate until she left. That feeling was weird, yet it was what I immediately though of when she walked in. I guess, it is just conditioned into me to be worried about a reactive dog.

I miss Toby. I’m not sure what else to say than that. My heart aches for him. You know, I’ve always read the articles about cancer and how to prevent it in dogs. I did some of those things. And, you know what? Toby got cancer and died anyway.

Was it because he was a puppy mill dog and his genetics were  a disaster? Was it because he was eating the wrong combinations of food? Was it because of the water he drank, or air he breathed, was  was polluted?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. Or, for that matter the answers to the  questions that spin in my head all night leaving me wide awake in whatever bed I’m sleeping in.

Toby meant the world to me. The month after he was gone, I was a complete mess. What made it even worse was that my birthday was exactly a week after he passed – as if dying on Sept. 11, a day I previously already hated, wasn’t enough. Toby, was, an all or nothing type of dog.

My poor friends Vikki, and her husband Les, spent the weekend with me and tried to keep my mind off of it, but, I know that I must have been, at times, a total b*tch, because I know I wasn’t in the right frame of  mind. I can’t believe they put up with me! But, I am forever grateful, because what sticks in my head was that they were there for me. They put up with me and loved me, despite my messiness that weekend, like wanting to drink wine and Oktoberfest beer, and not “feel” anything.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever properly thanked them for this, because I know I wasn’t easy to deal with me during that time.

I literally don’t know what else to say, except that, I miss Toby every single day. It hurts. I rethink what  I could have done better for him, how could I have prevented the lymphoma. I think about the 17 months after his initial diagnosis when they told me he could have 24  hours to 4 weeks. I know I am very lucky to have 17 months after his diagnosis with him.

As tears pour from my eyes as I write this, please, just hug your dogs:  Love them. Hold them. Appreciate them.


toby michelle maskaly






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