I think the reason it is so hard to write about Cher is that this is not the only sadness I am holding at this time. A very good friend, for many years, is living with significant health issues now.
My word for this year, as I mentioned earlier http://6sheepandallama.blogspot.com/2014/01/january-1st-2014-no-resolutions.html, is hopeful. I began this year very hopeful that this was going to be an extraordinary year and now, only 23 days into the year, I find myself wondering why this word has been given to me, and yet I remain HOPEFUL.
When my father was dying, I went to be with him and he asked me to stay until he died. He said if I couldn't he would have to go to the hospital and he wanted to remain home. I told him of course I would stay and I think that was the greatest gift I have ever given anyone. It was only about a week later, he left his body on this earth. It was an exhausting time but peaceful too. He wanted to be in his home, without medication, and with family. He didn't want the medications, I think, because the side effects made it so he couldn't be present. Dying is not a moment, but rather a process.
I think many would think that letting an animal fade slowly over a period of two weeks is inhumane. Why not end it for them, stop them from suffering. What is suffering? Death is a process that knows how much time to take in each situation. Charlie's dog, Smokette, died the same day as Cher and she seemed fine the day before.
Fourteen mornings when I went out to the barn I thought I would find that Cher had died in the night, but each morning I would find her still with us and I would ask, "Why?" Sometime, I would think I knew why. Some of the information I received was about patience, other about timing. Each morning I would greet her and ask her how she was doing and chat briefly. She would look at me, move a little, and just be. (the second day and a couple of other days she seemed better). I would tell her I loved her and tell her I would check on her later.
Cher was never a pet. She didn't like people to touch her so I always gave her her space. Mary, a yearling sheep that died a couple of years ago wanted me to sing to her and she liked attention. She would come each morning to see what concoction I had made up for her, until she no longer could walk.
I am recently reminded of the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. In one part of the book, Ishmael was recounting how the inventors of the earliest airplanes, thought they were flying when they jumped off the cliffs. They thought they were flying all the way until they eventually crashed. We are all dying, it just takes some of us longer than others to get to the final moment in our current body. But we must remember we are living too, and greet each day enthusiastically until we no longer can.
I am hopeful that when I no longer can, I can be at home with my family and friends and be present.