Tuesday, February 22, 2011

15 Stones: On Suffering

If the doctors are correct in their estimation of Murphy's prognosis, he will be dead in 15 weeks.

Why not kill him now? Isn't that the question we all ask at some point when we have a loved one with a terminal illness? Spare them the suffering? Spare ourselves the pain and save some money, too? That's certainly the subject of many emails I've been receiving lately.

Because I am a Christian, God's grace and will are something I think of just about every second of every day when it comes to Murphy's cancer. We pray for one yet know so little of the other. How can we presume then to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves?

I think that question will haunt us all til the end of our days.

With Malcolm after he was given rest - for months I replayed his last moments in my mind like being caught in an endless unrelentling video loop. I couldn't turn it off.

So am I keeping Murphy alive to avoid a sequel? Or is it my own arrogant belief that I can somehow fix him, that I can out-think the experts, beat the odds and save him?

I remember reading something someone said sometime ago about when you know you're going down the manner in which you go down is all that matters. How stupid was what I thought at the time...

Maybe not

How do you want to die? Peacefully and painlessly? Yeah that's the way we all want to go but we don't have that option do we?

Whether you believe that suffering is an extension of God's love or proof of his non-existence, personally I would endure just about any suffering to be loved completely. We all go down, surely some harder than others, but Murphy will not die from apathy, societal values, or a resignation of will.

As long as he feels loved I will fight for him against all odds and in defiance of criticism

16 comments:

Shayne Nieukirk said...

I agree with you Luke. You love Murphy & Hudson unconditionally and they love you unconditionally as well. You have a million memories made with them both. As long as he knows he is loved and you make sure that his final time with you is as pain-free as possible, then that is the best you can hope for. It is not as if you are playing God by keeping him alive via artificial means, or making a decision to terminate his life prematurely. Listen only to your heart. You are definitely not adding to Murphy's suffering. In fact, being surrounded by so much love is probably the most humane end Murphy could ask for. Just keep on loving him the way you always have. I know Hudson has been giving you cues too and he loves you both very much. Take care.

izzybean said...

I feel you. I put my dog of 15+years down last april and still feel guilt, though I had my cat die in my arms a year before, of the evil cancer, that too was awful, and both still haunt me. As I watched my dad take his last breath, cancer again. and the suffering he went through. It is hard to justify what is for the better. You have been on such a journey with your beloved dog, it seems hard not to be with him at the end of his journey. I know what you mean by thinking by some miracle that "maybe" by some divine intervention a ray of light will come and take over. You hang in there and my prayers and my heart go out to you and your loved ones... I also pray Murphy is not in pain, big Hugs and please hug Murphy for me.
Also, I too am a Christian, but will never understand how such innocents can be taken from us like this. Peace.

Siku Marie, White Dog said...

To know there is someone at your side who cares and will stick by you to the end is all that is needed to travel the journey until it reaches its natural end. So to you, my friend, I say Amen. Love him and be there, nothing more or less needs consideration.

Rosie Willett said...

Amen and Amen, Luke. To love and be loved are the greatest gifts of all.

Anonymous said...

Best advice I ever got from a veterinarian . . .
"Knowing the underlying cause is not reason to euthanize- inability to manage the disease and poor quality of life are reasons to euthanize. Dogs with lymphoma can achieve remission or have short term high quality of life. Do what feels right to you and fits your beliefs."

Lauren Lee said...

The only one who truly knows when Murphy is done, is ready to cross-over, is Murphy. And he will let you know when that time has come. In the meantime, keep savoring every special moment with your boys. Thinking of you three often and sending love, prayers and healing energy...

Michelle Plourde said...

Luke, I believe in you and the decisions you have made and continue to make concerning your son Murphy. You know whats best, its in your heart and Murphy knows you love him as much as he loves you. Never be concerned with others criticism for these are people with closed minds.

Christine H said...

The bottom line is: this is an intensely personal decision for YOU. Others may have their opinions and unless you specifically ask for advice/opinions, others need to respect what you decide. Your boy needs no other advocates; you are dedicated to him as no other. You will struggle with when and how and.....no one else will need to second guess you.
Prayers for strength and peace Luke coming your way.
Christine

Anonymous said...

Murphy doesn't know his time prediction. Let him lead. He has brought you this far and will show you the way. My Angels told me when it was time. You love Murphy and will be able to read him. He will let you know. They gave my Angel Cynnamon 8 months, she made 10. We helped her over The Bridge a month shy of her 13th birthday. Just love Murphy and cherish the time you have. He will guide you. I'm so sorry for this news.

Anonymous said...

Luke:
I am very sad to know that Murphy is coming to the end of his journey on earth. I feel blessed that I spent so much time with him and that he was a guest in our home. I found Murphy to be a strong and confident presence. Hudson wanted more attention and enjoyed to curl up on our couch, a young demeanor and flirty. Murphy seemed to be more wise and very content with his place in the world. I will truly miss him. He was so dignified the night of the gala, all spiffed up and allowing us to hug him and thank him. Hudson, on the other hand, was spending a lot of time on his back, tail wagging and enjoying belly rubs and silliness. Two loving chaps in a room full of admirors!!
I am sorry that you feel people's criticism. However, this is a result of your being open and sharing Murphy's disease with so many. By remaining public with this dark time for you and him....people just cannot resist the chance to speak out and give their two cents. Your journey and your mission and your desire to share.......has consequences. I urge you to keep on keeping on. Perhaps you will lose FB friends, who cares?! Perhaps you will find yourself the subject of much discussion and debate......
It would be impossible to please everyone through this. Perhaps the best thing you can do is be true to yourself and to Murphy. I have my own opinions of what I think I would do in your case......what I think I would feel...... However, I have not had to face this with my beloved pets. This is a blessing and I am grateful each day, but I know that I will not escape it. I also know that I CANNOT KNOW exactly what I will do and how I will proceed until that day is here. I do know that I will want my friends to respect my decisions and to encourage me to be strong and to love me regardless, even if they do not agree with my choices. This is a VERY vulnerable time in your life and to remain open and public must be very difficult. I wish you peace, Luke, and loving comfort from your friends, family, and your faith. I wish Murphy love and quality time with his Papi and Hudson until he is ready to go.
Love, Patty Gartmann

Lori said...

Our hearts and prayers are with you. Even if we have been down this road before ourselves; we can not know exactly what someone else should do. Each loved one is a unique individual, in a unique situation. We pray that you will have the strength to live each day without regret. Know that you are loved. Lori, Silas and our pack Samson, Delilah, Thor, Princess & Duchess.

Anonymous said...

Luke. You are completely loved. Malcolm, Murphy, Hudson, your family, God, so many people you've met and not met, known and will never know: They love you. They long for your presence, the pleasure of your company. They also wish to see you, as your Whitman would say, scattering yourself in this world, following God, spending all your many gifts without account,knowing "I am larger than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness." They wish for you, without condition, all the things wished for the ones we love: your benefit, your joy. Maybe these times of suffering, of grief, are ocassion to summon that goodness. Life is so hard. Don't we all, as you say, go down in a thousand little ways every day by living, not just in dying? We know so little of complete love, so little of death. They are not so unlike one another. We think one pulls us together and the other pulls us apart, but the truth is they both leave us aching. What the ache needs is kindness. Tenderness. Gentleness. Grace. These are not lesser virtues. There's the power of healing and strength in them. You've unquestionably demonstrated these virtues with Murphy and Hudson; undoubtedly with Malcolm. You possess all it requires to go on demonstrating such healing kindness and grace--the kind shown, not necessarily spoken. In example is your huge heart that set you to cross the country for the ones you love, your Malcolm and Murphy, and, yes, someday Hudson too. Maybe it wasn't clear when your walk ended, but surely you know now, and have hinted at as much: Your real journey is only beginning. It's sure to be as hard, like the last three years have been. No one but you can make your steps for you. But you don't have to travel alone. You have more fellow travelers than critics. Fight for faith and fight the cancer, but don't fight others who may bumble into contrary, even unfortunate, opinions but still love you. People won't always love us like we love them, or at all, Mother Teresa said. But we can love anyway. Isn't that the point in suffering? We each find ourselves, eventually, in this bewildering place of torment and grief. We often need a guide to tenderly show us a way through. Whitman got it right. We are larger than we think. Luke, you are larger than you think. You are a guide full of more goodness than you know. You will find the way to shores of peace, and when the fog of anguish clears a little, you will find the way again to reach out to the travelers who would go with you.

Whitman in "Song of the Open Road":
Camerado, I give you my hand!
I give you my love more precious than money,
I give you myself before preaching or law;
Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?

CC said...

No matter how great the pain may be, if you wouldn't change anything from your life with Murphy to lessen it, you know that you have had a very special relationship - something that many long for and never experience. When the sorrow comes, remember it as a mere reflection of the love you shared, and a reminder that it has not gone away.
I wish all three of you much love ...

Tisha Beauchamp Cotham said...

We have spoken and I believe in my heart and soul that you know how much I car and support you. I truly appreciate that, though difficult, you've put yourself out there for the world to not only know but to also learn from. You have been tremendous in your teachings for me. Murphy is your son. I know for a fact as God is my witness, there is no one that would make up mind on what to do. Do not question your feelings, thought nor heart. You told me to surround myself with those that think like me. You should do the same. If we could make everyone happy then war wouldn't exist. It doesn't matter what anyone, including myself feel, this is your child and personally, if you decided on a different decision then I would be surprised. Your a man with a heart. Do not allow anyone to break it. You take Murphy and love him, per him, talk to him, sing to him....Luke, be Murphy's daddy as he is your son. Murphy loves you. Look into this eyes and rejoice!

Deborah Robson said...

Pats to Murphy, please, from me. Hudson, too. I'm holding all three of you in the Light.

FiveSibesMom said...

I am so sorry for you and Murphy and with this sad path you must travel together. It's always heartbreaking. We are with Siku Mari, White Dog who said it so perfectly. Knowing you are there until the end, loving him...that is all they truly want and need. When the time to pass arrives, he and you will both know and travel those last few steps together. I am tearing up now, but want you to know you both are in our thoughts and prayers.