I am sharing Zoe's story with Eileen's Saturday's Critters. Many thanks, Eileen. I couldn't be with my sister, Sherrill, when she had to say good-bye to Zoe, but wanted to do what I could to help record this life that left such a mark on Sherrill's and my heart and on everyone who came to know her. What follows is an account of Zoe's life put together over the past eight days but open to further additions, should Sherrill want to share other memories of her in the future. Direct quotes from Sherrill's emails are all in a blue font. My memories and thoughts about Zoe are all in a black font.
On Friday, December 19th, Sherrill wrote these heartbreaking words:
On Sunday, things were calm. "Everything is fine here. Zoe has slept almost non stop since Friday night. She's had lots of pats and love so she's quite content as long as she doesn't lose sight of me." "Gentle Giant" is a cliché that happens to be absolutely true in Zoe's case. The only thing about her that was larger than her impressive frame was her heart. She enjoyed and was kind with everyone she met (except for a couple of exceptions to be described by my sister), but Sherrill was claimed as her own from the day she arrived. I am grateful that I asked a professional photographer (Neville Black Photography) to do a photo-shoot of my sister and her husband to celebrate their 41st anniversary. He at first insisted they exclude Zoe because he wanted the focus to be on Sherrill and her husband. It took a lot of convincing to get him to change his mind. I'm so glad he did.
More words written Sunday: "I have cleaned frantically because that's what I do when I need to distract myself. Our front vestibule, cupboard, stairs and woodwork all sparkle. Now heading to scrub bathrooms. Zoe's areas remain untouched." As you can see, Zoe was thrilled with the photo-shoot. A walk at Experimental Farms with two of her favourite people and a nice new gentleman paying lots of attention to her. Well, that's what Zoe called the good life!
Sadly, I am firm about the appointment today. I think it was confirmed for me yesterday when Barb arrived with her little dog Lily and Zoe refused to go for a walk with us. Barb and Lily went for a short walk to the park but Zoe and I stayed home. I think she knew that she couldn't do it. She's deaf, totally blind in one eye, has trouble eating and walking. She's defenseless and anxious. I know she could last longer but with the threat of another seizure looming, I feel that it's kinder to let her go. I've struggled with this decision but if I kept her with me longer it would be for me, not for her and I would never be able to leave her without feeling terrible guilt. Even when she is being cuddled by K (Sherrill's son), she is craning to find me with her better eye. Strangely, she has stopped pooping and peeing on the "blue grass" in the last month or so. Can't explain why, but she seems finally to be housetrained. :) We're quite proud of that. "
"K is having the most difficulty dealing with this decision. He asked if we could try to keep her through Christmas at least. Truth is though, that Zoe is happiest when the house is quiet and peaceful and she has me to herself. Right up until Friday she was thrilled to have W (4-year-old grandson) arrive and be here with us. On Saturday mornings she has always bustled into his room with me in the morning as he wakes up. She would often lie outside his door waiting for him to get up. This Saturday, she just ignored him and slept. He brought her her toys but she didn't even raise her head. For very brief moments she gets up and looks almost normal. But five minutes later, she has to sleep again because her energy level is so low."
"I will try to take Zoe out to the park this morning to visit her favourite haunts. I'm hoping that she will have the energy and will to go with me even if we just make it to the first park bench. Otherwise, her day will be filled with peace, love and treats although she has refused to eat he breakfast again this morning. My heart is heavy but not broken. I know she had a good life with us."