Then the bottom fell out.
We noticed some changes in Coltrane about a week ago. Some we chalked up to the new baby in the house, others we thought were a result of the lingering surgery issues and a few we thought were caused by a recent change in his food. But we knew things weren't right a few days ago when he wouldn't eat. Then on Wednesday, when we went out for a walk, he collapsed - he did it again that night.
Yesterday we took him to the University of Georgia - where he'd been receiving treatment for the past few months. We met with the doctors in the morning and ran some errands while they ran tests - that afternoon, while in the Target parking lot, we got a call from the doctor. Coltrane had an infection - a serious infection.
When we got back to the hospital that afternoon, we met with the internal medicine doctors who kept stressing the severity of Coltrane's condition. Apparently this was more than just an infection. But, we left Coltrane in their hands, remained positive and headed back to Atlanta.
That evening we got a call from the doctors - the infection was so severe that it had caused inflammation throughout his body. While they thought they could get the infection under control, the other issues - mainly the condition of his heart - were grave. They felt we should come over the next morning to see him as he might not make it through the weekend.
A few minutes later we got a call telling us to come that night.
We drove back to the university that night and got there at 10:30 pm. The school was dark and, as they let us in, I felt as though I was someplace I shouldn't be; it was eerie and ominous. We went into one of the exam rooms and talked with the doctors who told us how Coltrane was fighting but that his prognosis was grim; after discussing options, we told them to do whatever they could to save him.
We went in to see our buddy, saying what we knew could very well be goodbye. He recognized us and I promised him Brewster's ice cream every week if he pulled through. We told him how he needed to fight for his new little brother Miles. We choked back tears as we petted him while he laid there in on the floor of the ICU with tubes attached to him everywhere.
We headed back to Atlanta in silence and hoped for the best but ultimately his little heart couldn't handle it. At 1 am, when the phone rang, we knew - we didn't need to hear the doctor say it, Coltrane had passed.
There are a million and one things I could say about how amazing Coltrane was - about how he was the kindest, gentlest dog in the world (even at 100 pounds, he'd play with the 5 pound bichon frise down the street without any of us ever worrying about him hurting her), how he was so happy (no matter how crappy my day, just hearing him run to the door to greet me would cheer me up the minute I stepped in the door), how he was loving (he never wanted to be without us and would follow us around the house - complete unconditional love)... Honestly I could go on for hours but it would never do service to what an amazing creature he was.
We loved that dog as if he were our first child and, while at the hospital after Miles' delivery, the only thing I could think about was getting home to see that furry little guy again and having him meet his new brother. I'm sad that Miles won't get to know and grow up knowing a family member who was a huge part of our life. And each time I think about never seeing that big bushy tail, that ear-to-ear grin or those cute white feet, I ache with a pain so bad that I wonder if it's capable of ever going away. Quite honestly I'm having difficulty putting it all into words - it's like being hit with continual tidal waves of grief, anger, and the type of sadness that literally makes you hurt inside.
I'm trying to focus on the good - the 6+ years of pure joy Coltrane brought into our lives and the many years of joy we have to look forward to with Miles - but it's a minute-by-minute struggle. I know that with time it will grow less painful and it may one day be something that doesn't cause me to shake and cry uncontrollably - it's just hard seeing that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
Rest in peace little buddy - you'll be missed.