Sept 4, 2010
One day in Feb. 2008, my best friend, an active and playful German shepherd named Alec, suddenly became paralyzed. He was seven years old and had inter-vertebral disc disease. Although the veterinary neurologists did everything they could surgically, they told me it was very unlikely he would ever walk again. But after a year…he did. It was some kind of miracle. Well, not really. It was consistent physical therapy and time. And love and luck and patience.
After Alec became paralyzed, our lives turned upside down and inside out, and I started the original version of this blog (Alec’s Story, Pt. 1) to keep my friends and family updated during his rehabilitation and recovery from surgery. It was a happy story for awhile, inspirational even.
Because despite his poor prognosis, Alec kept improving, slowly but surely, until one fine day — a year after he became paralyzed — he walked around the block for the first time without his doggie wheelchair. He stopped using it altogether four months later. Although he limped and needed to wear a special shoe to protect his paw on walks, Alec got around amazingly well. Besides this lingering disability, I thought Alec was perfectly healthy.
I was wrong. Not long after he started walking again, Alec was diagnosed with a nasty, malignant, and very aggressive kind of cancer called hemangiosarcoma. I did everything I could, determined to beat the odds again. I would not give up hope. But I couldn’t save him. Alec died on July 31, 2010, only two and a half months after the confirmed diagnosis. He was nine years and 10 months old. On top of the sheer pain of losing him and a sorrow that stole my senses, I could not understand why this had to happen to my sweet boy, after all he had been through, after everything he had overcome to walk again after being paralyzed. Thus began my forced march through grief.
I know there is no answer to my question: why? The answer is, “that’s life.” This is where this section ends and the blog starts. Because I started this blog as a way to deal with my grief, which is indescribable at this point. But before Alec died, I told him our relationship wouldn’t end, that our story would continue. I even told him I would start a new blog and name it Alec’s Story, Part 2. So that’s what I did.
Some people might think a blog about grief is a terribly depressing idea, but that may be because our culture is largely silent about death. Death is a part of life and one of the few truly universal experiences. For anyone who has experienced a profound loss and found it difficult to “bounce back,” I believe being open about the grief experience can help. I have only begun this journey. Thanks for joining me.