It is with deep sadness, sorrow, and gut-wrenching pain that I share today that yesterday, November 14, 2020, by beloved child, dog, friend, companion, and protector—Bishop Milo Bryant, transitioned from this life.
I struggle to type these words because his presence is so strong, in my heart, mind, spirit, and soul. His presence is so strong in my home, car, and throughout social media—as he has his own IG, FB, and Twitter accounts.
I walk past his bed, cool mat, blanket, water and food area, his toys, and I’m waiting to see him. My heart hurts. My head hurts. My entire body is in agony and I don’t know what else to do except pray for peace within.
I never thought that my initial plans to take him to Lake Lanier for a day out would instead lead to a change of plans the moment we got into my SUV. He was energetic earlier in the day but was lethargic when I returned home with his $19 FreshPet food loaf. I was excited about mixing it up with a sweet potato I cooked him Friday night. I said it had to be yummy if it cost $19. I couldn’t wait to see if Bishop enjoyed it. But Bishop was now lethargic and not interested in food or even his beloved treats.
I thought the drive, good weather, and time at the lake would change his energy. He was excited to go but his energy wasn’t as high as normal.
A family friend had invited us and was waiting in the car when I loaded up the essentials I would need for a day at the lake. Just as I grabbed Bishop’s toys from his cubby in the rear of my SUV, and tossed them in the backseat to entertain and comfort him, my friend told me Bishop’s gums were white. They had been a light pink hours before. Now we were both confused.
No trip to the lake. The only car ride was to the hospital. I jumped in my SUV, told my friend I would keep them posted, and I sped off. I have no clue what they said as I left. My only focus was Bishop.
After not reaching his vet, I called the ER and told them I’m heading their way. Bishop was in the backseat in his hammock, not his normal self. I held one of his paws as I drove. I contacted my sister and friend with updates, and texted our other family friend (and former assistant) to notify him and Bishop’s dad of the latest. I asked my sister to contact my mom to keep her informed.
My friend, who I left waiting outside our home, had pulled up three parking spaces away. There were several cars waiting for care of their beloved pets.
The staff brought me paperwork to complete and then the assistant came and escorted Bishop inside the building, while I followed COVID-19 protocols and waited in my car.
Never did I think this ER visit would be our last together.
I hadn’t contemplated anything as serious as the phone call I received not even 30 minutes later. As I cried on the phone with the doctor, I took detailed notes to share with loved ones who would have questions. I read my notes back to the doctor and she said she couldn’t believe the accuracy of my note-taking. Those kudos only had a light touch because I was being congratulated on my accuracy in a time of duress and horror.
Without sharing the awful diagnosis (and I have no intention in sharing it later, so please don’t ask), I will say that the prognosis shared gave my beloved Bishop Milo 3 to 6 more months of time with me, if (and only if) his surgery and aftercare had no hiccups. The best case scenario was 6 to 12 months, but factoring in his age and breed, the doctor was barely holding on to that level of optimism.
The steps required sounded like anxiety-ridden, stress-inducing, painful moments for my baby. He was already experiencing great anxiety and discomfort every time he returned from the vet and hospital these previous few weeks. It would take days for him to return to normal. I couldn’t fathom what hospitalization, surgery, rehab, and any other procedures would cause his beautiful mind to think and his heart to feel.
My baby is love, light, and high energy. When he’s not feeling good the whole world turns grey around us. Nothing and no one matters during that time except Bishop. My worry and tears would only worry him more. We both leaned on each other for comfort and support. So what would this proposed experience be like for him? For us?
When the doctor warned me of the potential complications during and after surgery, I swear the world stopped rotating for a few moments. I couldn’t comprehend my baby passing away on an operating table, in a recovery crate, on the way home, or any other number of scenarios that were presented. I couldn’t let him think I left him with strangers to experience such traumas.
My son needed to hear, see, feel, and be around his loved ones. My son needed to hear, feel, and know that he is loved, appreciated, and the best son ever. I didn’t want him to leave this level of existence not knowing that he did an amazing job loving on everyone he encountered.
He did an amazing job loving, supporting and protecting me. He did an amazing job caring for me when I was sick, throughout my current and past injuries, and throughout my health scares. When my body doesn’t want to cooperate, Bishop aligns his energy with me and he’s more gentle and patient, as he knows I sometimes struggle to physically interact with him like I normally do. He’s grown to be an awesome support dog, more than I imagined—as most of the things he’s learned to support me have been within the last one to two years.
He did an amazing job learning other new things these past two years, including free walking off leash in crowds, around cars, and while other dogs and cats were in close proximity. Bishop loved chasing cats.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but clearly they didn’t know Bishop Milo. My baby was still learning new things days before this tragedy.
What my baby needed now was to look into our eyes, and we look into his, and know that all would be different, but all would be well. He wouldn’t hurt and suffer anymore. He wouldn’t be subjected to poking and proding, needles and other things being stuck in him. He wouldn’t have to deal with doctors and nurses anymore. No more anxious runs, racing to his mommy trying to break free from the grasp of the attendant walking him out to me.
I sobbed knowing that this was the right decision but wishing I had a better one. I kept hoping for a miracle but one never came.
We were supposed to be at the lake, playing near and in the water, looking at bugs, insects and people. He was supposed to be rolling around in grass and playing catch. We were supposed to have a great Saturday and then plan our Sunday football menu. We were supposed to be planning our road trip for Thanksgiving, and prepping for Christmas.
We were supposed to be getting hyped up for his upcoming, November 25th birthday. My baby Bishop was turning 9 years old and I had already picked out his gift and cake. I even contemplated buying him an outfit to wear.
Now, instead, I was having to make the toughest decision I’ve had to make so far in my life.
I spoke with my friend and my sister, separately and then together. My sister made phone calls to update my mom and to have my ex-husband updated. I called the ER doctor and she walked outside to speak in person. I told her that I didn’t want my baby to hurt anymore, to be scared anymore, to be traumatized anymore, and I couldn’t selfishly intervene knowing that I risked causing all of those things and more to happen to the spirit, energy, light that I love as my very own child.
It wasn’t long after that the assistant guided me and my friend into a private room where Bishop anxiously and lethargically tried to get to us, and convince us to get him out of there. We joined my mom and sister on a video call, where we all grieved together.
I’m grateful to the staff for allowing me to stay with Bishop as long as I wanted. Well, as long as I wanted in that room. Because my heart and mind say he’s supposed to be here beside me right now, as I type these words, he’s supposed to be waiting for today’s adventure to unfold.
I sobbed all yesterday and woke up today crying. All I want is my baby, Bishop. As I drove home I could smell his scent in my car. When I put my key in the lock and opened my front door, I expected for him to be there, high-energy, welcoming me home and asking what I brought back for him. My home is filled with Bishop and all-things Bishop. His toys, bedding, blankets, and clothes. My SUV has two storage cubes filled with Bishop’s things.
Last night, I spent hours on his IG and Facebook, looking at videos and pictures of him over the years, and funny videos of dogs that our family and friends had posted that reminded us of Bishop. For as long as I can, I will keep his social media accounts active. I plan on creating some photo albums and video montages of Bishop.
I want my baby. I miss my baby. Our time together wasn’t long enough. Almost 9 years wasn’t enough. I had travel plans for us. I had plans to find him the perfect sibling or siblings to boss around, and play with. We were supposed to swim in ponds, lakes, and pools together. We still had countless hiking trips to go on, adventures to create.
All of that is gone. So now I hold on dearly to the memories, the pictures, videos, and tangible items that were and are Bishop’s.
I thank my sister for the beautiful message she posted on Facebook yesterday, honoring her nephew. I thank those of you who posted condolences, sent texts, and called. Right now I need some time to cope and go through these grieving and healing steps. Please understand my desire to be antisocial for awhile. For some of you, Bishop was just a dog. For those of you who had Bishop in your life, you know better. You know the loving soul and spirit that rested in that big ole furry body. You know that he was, is, and always will be my child.
I’m contemplating hosting a virtual memorial service for him, on his birthday. If I do, I hope you will attend and share your memories and prayers for Bishop. Unlike my book release party, there won’t be any registration, just show up and share in the love. I’m hurting y’all but I’m also grateful that my baby is at peace. I’m hurting but I only have pain because the love we share is so strong. I’m blessed to know this deepness and purity of love.
Bishop gave and taught me unconditional love. There is no greater gift. I will hold that love in my heart forever.
Copyright 2020. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.