Recently, we brought Suzie to the Vet Clinic for her annual check up. The last check up she had, we found out that she has a heart murmur so we were hoping this time around that things would be better considering we changed her diet and tried all sorts of ways to improve the condition. As Suzie is turning 10 this November, we know too well that our beloved, darling girl’s health would not be as good as when she was a puppy. We were right because the Vet informed us that her heart murmur is a Stage 4. There are 6 stages, 1 being the lowest risk and 6 being the highest. Just to share a little insight on what a heart murmur is – It is the heart valves closing as blood moves through the heart and since there is a hole in the valves (I hope I am explaning this right), the blood that the heart pumps goes two directions. So instead of flowing through to the rest of the body, it goes back to the heart as well and therefore, the heart has to pump extra hard to ensure the body is getting the blood it needs. As such, the murmur is an an unusual sound of the heart during the heartbeat – like a woosh. Due to the heart having to do extra work, Suzie may experience breathlessness even when she isn’t doing much or slight coughs in the night when she sleeps. So far, we’ve heard some wheezing and the coughs which sound like she choked on saliva or water, but the coughs aren’t regular.

Anyway, the Vet told us that we could get an X-ray done to check the extend of the abnormality of the shape of her heart, instead of waiting until Suzie starts getting a cardiac arrest and stuff to find out that she needs to be on lifetime medication. So we had an X-ray done, thank God that the shape wasn’t too round (too round is bad as it means swelling). The doctor advised for Suzie to be on lifetime medication – to reduce blood pressure, and to have Suzie come in for check ups every 3-4 months to monitor her condition. Interestingly, she mentioned that there are a team of experts who are currently working on replacing the heart valves. It is a trial thing, it may extend Suzie’s lifespan to longer than 15 Years of doggy age, and it costs S$30,000. Money that we do not have, and even if we do, we’re not sure if we would like to take the risk as everything does come at a risk. The vet herself told us that even she wouldn’t know if she would consider having her dogs go through that. She advised that since Suzie has 3-4 more years of her life left, make it a good one for her. One without much or any suffering, instead of going through with the operation and if it doesn’t work out, we might have shortened it a whole lot more. It’s like gambling and I’m not up for that. Neither are my family members.

“Suzie has 3-4 more years, very rare to see dogs live more than 15 years.” I choked. I felt a lump in my throat, it was the worst thing I heard in that week. I wanted to cry very badly but I held back because Suzie cannot know that we are upset. She must never know. I am typing this now as she lies on my bed, she’s looking at me while enjoying the aircon. I didn’t want to type this out before because I had to compose myself first. I do not know how to begin. I didn’t know how to accept that I may lose Suzie in a couple of years and that I would have to bid farewell to the friendship I shared with her for almost 10 years now. I still can’t quite wrap my head around it. I have lost loved ones to death before, but I was too young to understand the gravity of it fully. I am older now, much older, and I understand it fully, and just the thought of it really saddens me. For the first couple of nights since I heard the news, I would cry myself to sleep because I don’t want to lose her, I really don’t. But I knew that when we got her, death was inevitable and as a teenager at 13, I counted the estimate age I would be when Suzie would no longer be around. I did not do that sadistically or because I enjoyed doing so but because I was already time-conscious and I wanted to always understand the importance of time I had with loved ones and the importance of valuing that time. I have no regrets having her to be part of this family. She belongs with us. She is and will always be my truest friend and the one who comforted me when I was hurt by the dissolves in my friendships with people.

But I cannot stop time. And death is inevitable. And life goes on.

In the next year, I would be graduating from LASALLE.  Two years of my time here in LASALLE  have gone by so quickly, what more another year? What more 3 years, or 4 years even? Marion will ORD this December, Christmas will come then it’s a new year again. That’s one year gone. When I graduate, that makes another half year gone. And before I know it, time’s up and I will have to say goodbye. But I know the dangers too of living in the future. And I know too well that I shouldn’t. People tell me to prepare my heart for it, but I can’t. This is not something anyone can prepare for. If you ask me, I will tell you this – I have accepted. I have accepted she will leave. I have accepted that I have to say goodbye. I have accepted that I will mourn and I would have to grief. I have accepted that death will knock on our doors. I have accepted the time is passing by too quickly. I have accepted that I cannot stop anything from happening. I have accepted that all I can do now is treasure Suzie’s presence as much as I can, now that she is still alive and relatively well.

I used to say things like “I can’t wait for Christmas to come”, or “I can’t wait for Marion to be done with army”, things like that. But now, I find that it is so hard to say that, because I can wait. Infact, I want time to pass by so much slower. I mean, I would like Marion to be done with army ASAP but that’s the thing, I can’t have my cake and eat it too.

The reality of the situation is that I can only treasure this time I have with her now, I cannot stop time. She means very dearly to me, no one would ever understand the full impact Suzie has on my life because we share that friendship. They may relate, but no one would ever fully know. It doesn’t upset me though that no one would ever fully understand that impact, because that bond we had would always be uniquely ours, likewise the bond she shared with others would be uniquely theirs. I have loved, and will always love Suzie through all the years and all the days that I am alive. I am fortunate to have at least lived close to 10 years and counting of this friendship with Suzie. I was given, am given, the privilege of knowing Suzie.

She isn’t just the family’s pet, she is family. She is my bestest friend.