My Mother's day weekend started with a lazy Friday night with Danny and the kids, my favorite kind of Friday night. Saturday my sister and I got all the kids together at my studio so I could take photos of them for gifts to give all the Nana's. Then we went to the store to get the things we needed for our big mother's day cookout at my parents house. Our purchase consisted of tons of strawberries for the dessert I planned to make, steaks, picture frames, dog treats, a new kind of chewy for Toby's sensitive tummy (digesteeze), and batman Legos for Jax. Danny threw chocolate chips in the cart and I had no idea why, "dont worry about it", he said. We checked out and went home. I spent a few hours, in between bottles and pee breaks, working on combining roughly 8 photos into one to get a decent photo of all the kids.
Danny started getting pots and glass bowls out and told me that aside from the studio backdrops he got me for mother's day, he was going to make me some chocolate covered strawberries, my favorite. He made two double boilers, melted milk and white chocolate. I kept sneaking over and stealing them while the chocolate was still warm. ::yummy::
The kids went to bed like usual, Danny fell asleep on the couch, holding the dog, like usual. I finished editing the photos, printing them and placing them in the frames with a word design I created about how lucky our kids are to have our moms as their Nana.
At 2:00AM I finished the photos. I woke up Danny, he put Toby on our bed. I pumped, put my milk into the fridge, and slid under the covers, rubbed my feet against Toby under his blanket at the foot of the bed. Which always makes me smile. "Goodnight woobie." Thanked Danny for my strawberries and kissed him goodnight.
Sunday, Mother's Day and my mom's birthday, we woke up, let Toby out, Danny put fresh water and food in his bowl. I started to make my strawberry dessert and realized I bought the wrong kind of pudding. Danny ran to the grocery store for me to get the kind I needed. Aubrey woke up so I made her a bottle and sat on the couch with Jax and Toby. Danny got back and I made my dessert, dancing around the kitchen with the dog at my feet licking up the bits of whipped cream that flung out of my bowl. "Is that good, baby?" I placed the bowl in the refrigerator and headed to the bathroom to get ready. I quickly realized I was running out of time. Kids had to get dressed, Jax didn't want to get dressed, as usual. Meanwhile Toby was laying on the floor, belly up, tail wagging, waiting for belly rubs and love.
"Oh tobe-tobe, you need love don't you" I'd stop and quickly rub him with my foot and step over him to get to where I was going. Time kept slipping away and we needed to leave to get to my parents house by 1:30. I packed up the car as Danny got Aubrey dressed. Put the baby in the car and went in to give Toby a treat. I opened the new bag of dog treats we bought on Saturday, Jax wanted to give him the treat so I handed it to him, he threw it to him and I threw another half to him (why the hell not?). "Bye bye Toby, be a good boy, I love you."
At my mom's we had an amazing lunch with smoked ribs, steak, sausage, chicken. Endless sides, bread, and a carrot birthday cake to top it all off.
We sang Happy Birthday to my mom and we all sat around with super full bellies while the kids ran around, sugared up. The crowd started to dwindle, it was Sunday, a school night. We were the last to leave, we packed up and left. We remembered that we needed diapers so we drove to the store, I ran in real quick and then we headed home. We talked about our day and Danny said "our baby boy probably has to pee" and gave me a frowny face. We pulled up to the house, grabbed the mail, and pulled into he garage. Danny ran in to let Toby out and I opened Jax's door to get him out when I heard Danny make an awful yell. I said "what?!" I didn't really hear what he said so I told Jax I'd be right back. Danny yelled again, "NO!!! HUNNY!!" I started to shake and asked him "what's wrong?"
My instant reaction was "oh my god, we forgot to close a door" or someone broke in. I ran in and Danny had Toby on on floor, screaming and trying to open his mouth. I said "what's wrong??" I grabbed Toby and he was cold.
Cold and rigid.
My sweet baby boy was cold.
Danny's pacing, screaming, and asking why?! Why?!
The kids. Get the kids out of the car.
We called our parents, shaking, on our knees.
"TOBY'S DEAD!" We yelled into our phones.
My mom drove, well, practically flew to my house, barefooted. I hugged her, shaking uncontrollably and told her Toby's gone.
Danny was crying and holding Toby, tightly, on the floor. He said he walked in and called his name and got no response. He walked around the couch to see if he was on his pillow in our bedroom and then turned to see him in the couch. In that moment he knew, he tried to wake him. That's when I heard the first awful scream.
In this moment, it all became a blur. I was in a complete state of shock, yet I had to be a Mom. I didn't want Jax to see this or his mommy and daddy upset. My Dad showed up shortly after my mom, he hugged me and grabbed my face, told me he understood this feeling. My dad kept Jax distracted the rest of the time. Thank you, Dad.
I took Toby from Danny and sank down against the back door. Holding his cold, little, lifeless body. My first baby, my bubby, my sweet boy, why did you leave us? I felt his head on my shoulder and just prayed for a breath, a sigh, a lick. Anything. I sat there for awhile, Danny's parents showed up and his mom helped with Aubrey. After awhile I took Toby into our bedroom, laid him on the bed and wrapped his blanket around him. Petting him and begging for him to come back to us. I remember holding him and screaming into the mattress. Here comes the anger and guilt.
My dad took Jax back to their house, Jax was tired from a busy day, confused, and distraught. I feel terrible for not paying more attention to my babies but you can't control yourself in a situation like this. Something takes over you and you just exist. Your actions are uncontrollable.
I felt guilt. I should've been home, I should've kissed him before I left, I should've gotten down onto the floor when he was begging for belly rubs. Was it the treats I gave him? Did he get into something? He looked so peaceful. He had no struggle or signs of pain. Just like that, he was gone. To sleep for eternity, off to the rainbow bridge.
People always say, "I hope I come home one day and my dog just fell asleep, that will make it easier." I'm here to tell you... it's not. Toby was 10. About to turn 11 in June. He was healthy, spunky and happy. He had so much more life to him. It's not fair.
What do we do now, it's Sunday night. We can't take him anywhere. I knew I've always wanted him cremated but never imagined the day it would be time or how to prepare for that. I'm so thankful for a client turned friend who's a vet tech. I messaged her and she told us to keep him as cold as possible. My mother in law quickly left to get us some ice. Danny decided to put him in the tub. We laid plastic down over his pillow and laid him on top wrapped in one of his blankets and placed the ice over him. Covered the bags so we couldn't see them. Somehow we mustered the strength to get impressions of his paws with a handprint ornament kit that I've had laying around the house for years.
Soon we were alone with only Aubrey. She was asleep in her bassinet next to our bed.
We didn't sleep that night. We cried and stared into the quiet darkness. Laid on Toby's blanket, smelling him. There was no warm little body at the foot of our bed for me to rub with my feet. Only a cold little body in our tub. The thought of that kept me awake all night. I longed for daylight to figure out what the next step would be.
Monday, 7am. I called our veterinarian's office as soon as they opened. The receptionist gave us her sympathy and told me that they do offer cremation services for $160. I didn't care of the amount, she could've told me $500 and I would've said "OK".
She said to bring him in after 9am. We had two more hours... Danny said it felt like we're about to go into the principal's office, waiting for our punishment. He mentioned that he wanted to get Toby's paw print as a tattoo. I quickly responded with. "I have an ink pad." What was wrong with me? How am I okay with all of this? But, that's what we did, I dipped his paw in the ink and pressed it to paper on a clip board. I did it a few times to make sure we had a good one. In the middle of all this, I decided I'd get his paw print tattoo too.
My sister called to see how I was, but there was no way to answer. "Oh, you know." is all I could say. She asked me if I called the vet about cremation and asked how much it costs. Finally, 9:00am rolled around and I wasn't even dressed. At this point I was procrastinating. I didn't want to do it... let go of my baby. I made myself as presentable as possible, packed up Aubrey and Danny put her in the car. We came back in to get Toby. We took off some of the ice and Danny picked up his entire pillow and carried it out to the car. While carrying him to the car some of the melted ice spilled over the plastic and onto Danny's clothes. He set Toby down and went in to change his clothes.
I spent this time alone with Toby. I noticed how the sun shined into the car while I was talking to him. He loved the sun, he laid in it every chance he could get. I opened the blankets and took off another bag of ice to let him enjoy the sun, one last time. "Feel that sun, baby, this is how I'll always remember you. Laying in the sun." I thought of something my Dad used to say whenever he saw Toby laying in the sun... "We're cooking a weiner!"
Danny came out and it was time to go. We dropped Aubrey off with my mom and said hello to Jax as he played in the sandbox outside with Breken. Danny told him we we're taking Toby to go see Harley and we'd be back to get pick him up. We missed Jax, we needed his presence to fill the emptiness we felt.
My mom wanted to see Toby again, we went to the car and she said her goodbyes along with a few "why's?" "We'll miss you, little bit", she said.
Off we went, "Toby's last ride to the vet", Danny said. We parked on the side of the building and walked in. With tears in my eyes, I told the receptionist that were there to drop off our dog who had passed away. She immediately responded with "I'm so sorry." She asked for his name and I had my debit card ready to pay the fee. I handed it to her and she said "it's been taken care of." "What? Really?" She nodded and smiled. I immediately knew who paid for it, my sister. My amazing sister. When she called she asked me how much it was and I knew she called them after our phone call to pay for it. Danny and I both stood there and cried. Just knowing someone took that burden off of us was huge.
She told us to meet her around the side of building with Toby. We sat on the step and hung our heads until we heard the door open. Danny went to get Toby out of his truck and carried him in the building. We set him down on the table and she gave us a few minutes to say goodbye. This was our final goodbye, the last time we'll ever see our sweet Toby. I buried my face in his neck, wishing I could capture that feeling forever. The tech stood by close, she told me when we were finished to step outside and she'd bring us his blankets and bed. It was time to go now. I had to physically peel Danny off of Toby. I then filled out a form, approving of the cremation and I asked the techs why they think he passed so unexpectedly. Three of them all said "his heart" simultaneously. We went outside to hang our heads again. A few minutes later, she brought us his pillow and blankets. I held them close to my nose all the way home. That smell, I don't ever want it to go away. I don't care if all the blankets in my house smell like Toby. It's the sweetest scent I'll ever smell.
We stayed at my parents house the rest of the day. Going home was out of the question. It was too empty. I had to keep telling myself that it will get easier.
We went home late and went straight to bed. Jax spent the night with us, we needed him in the bed with us. Something to distract us from the emptiness. We watched TV and fell asleep. Sleep, finally.
Today is Tuesday. Danny had to go back to work today. Which meant I was alone with the kids and my thoughts. It's amazing the tricks your mind can play on you. Walking by his bed, I swore I saw his little nose poking out from under his blanket.
I tried to distract myself with the TV, cuddling with my babies, anything. I decided to write this story. I know people will ask what happened. Now I can say it once and not have to relive this time anymore. To say I am an animal lover is an understatement. Some would say "it's just a dog", but not to us. He was one of our kids, he was our first baby, he was there through all the big moments in our life. We would've done anything for him. He was loved by anyone who knew him, so loved. I believe his heart wasn't big enough for all the love he had for him.
After his heart stopped, it left a hole in mine.
Tobias il mio Angelo
June 21, 2006 - May 14, 2017