Sunday, May 07, 2006

that was the moment

"You know, we just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, well, there'll be other days. I didn't realize that that was the only day." --moonlight graham
what's significant, really, from one day to the next?

this week, for example, i made a joke in the kitchen, a silly play on words, while the children were eating dinner. i wasn't expecting a response, but my 5 1/2 year old daughter stopped for a moment and said, "good one, dad."

i was surprised, and i laughed, and she laughed. it was nice. in fact, i'd go so far as to say it was significant...except i can't even remember what i said. and neither can my daughter. at the time i thought it was pretty clever, but the moment passed, and life pressed on.

also this week, our big yellow dog, raleigh, underwent emergency surgery. this followed a walk during which he laid down and seemed unable to get back up again.

he did, eventually, after considerable coaxing, and we slowly made our way back home. i was worried enough to take him to the emergency clinic, where an x-ray revealed a large mass in his abdomen. the vet said, "tumorous growth" and recommended immediate surgery. after a few minutes' deliberation of the prognosis, the $3,000 estimate, and a hurried call home to my wife, i told the vet to go ahead.

as raleigh walked through the doors to the OR, i felt as if we might've taken our last walk together. it was all i could do to keep myself together long enough to get out the clinic door.

later, at 1:30 a.m., the vet called. she said the procedure had gone well, and raleigh was resting comfortably. that was vet-speak for, "he's whacked out on anesthesia." she said there had been some internal bleeding, which had caused his walk-stoppage, but that the growth was contained.

the prognosis, she repeated, was good.

the rest of the week was spent doting on the big dog. he stayed inside all day every day, except for bathroom breaks. i slept on the couch to keep watch over him each night, and at the end of the third day he started to bounce back. he regained the spring in his step and ate hungrily. the fourth day the vet declared that his red blood count was climbing nicely and that he could resume his twice-daily walks.

in another significant moment, we breathed a sigh of relief that the wolf had, temporarily at least, passed our door.

such things are not always as they seem. in the last significant moment of this little story, the vet called back today. the mass, she said, was an angiosarcoma, an aggressive, malignant cancer. currently there's no effective treatment, and the prognosis, once promising, is now measured in weeks. or days.

it's hard to believe, because today raleigh seemed like his old self again. he has energy, he's smiling, he wants to play.

you always think there will be other days. most often it's true.

but for our little family, a significant series of days is running out.

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