Rizzo To The Rescue: Dog Offers Relief While Gay Man Grieves Loss Of Partner.

by Ladislao Loera

My name is Ladislao Loera and I’m from Houston, Texas.

I had been with my partner for about eighteen years. The last four years, he was fighting a terminal and rare cancer. He had this colostomy operation – it was the last surgery that he had – and he would get really sick. Nauseous. And you could just feel the misery coming off of him. He looked horrible and there was nothing you could do for him. And about a week later I noticed that I was getting nauseous as well. Then I realized I was actually getting sick is a precursor to him. Because about five or ten minutes later, he would get really sick.

Once I made this connection, the next time I felt this stomach problem, I would get a couple of kitchen towels and get them wet. I sat with one on my head and I crawled around and gave him one. And he just looked at me like, “Okay…” and I told him he was going to need it. I sat down like this and then it hit him. And I could feel it hit him. And he just looked at me because he didn’t know what was going on. And I just pointed at the towel and he grabbed it and we both sat there with towels on our heads until the nausea finally passed and we were both better.

And he looked and he says, “How do you know this?” And I had no idea.

We both got misty eyed and he was like, “We love each other so much that we’re joined in this way that we feel each other’s lives.”

SIx months later, Chris passed away and for a month I was absolutely insane. I was ridiculously lonely. I was lost. And I was absolutely devoid of help and hope for anything. There was just nothing that was going to make me better. While I was crazy, I was able to take care of my pets. I had a dog and 2 cats – Rizzo and Cyclops and Tragedy. I made sure they were okay. The dog got walked, everyone got fed, and the cats had their litter box changed.

But one of the things I forgot to do was take care of myself. And I would go days where I just forgot to eat. I was lying in bed, miserable, crying and trying not to live. It was during one of those times that I had this self-imposed fast that I had this dream within a dream. And in the first layer, I was in the cemetery after Chris’s funeral. And I was walking around and the sun was setting and it was getting dark and I was just calling out his name looking for him. And then I woke up and Chris was lying right beside me.

And he said, “What a silly dream. I’m always here.” And then I woke up again. And then I realized he is dead. He is not here. And I am shaking and I am nauseous and I am rolling around in the fetal position on my side of the bed. The cats are sleeping behind me – they took over Chris’s side. And my dog Rizzo sees that something’s wrong and she climbs up her staircase, because she had knee surgery so we got a staircase for so it’s easier for to get on the bed. She was a little pitbull mix, brown with a white stripe down her face and white socks. And she just starts licking at my face. I’m still reeling having this memory and I’m wishing I could throw up, which, honestly is the weirdest wish anybody could ever have. My dog is there licking my face and I look at her and she’s got the most beautiful brown eyes and then she turned sideways and BLAAAHHH – she throws up all over the bed.

I bolt up and I have to rip the sheets off because my dog has this horrible tendency and I was wanted to make sure I got everything before she decided to try and re-digest what she had just regurgitated onto the bed. I got new sheets to put on the bed. I got the old things thrown in the laundry. I come back in the bedroom. The cats have taken over Chris’s side of the bed again. And my dog is just – climbed back up there and she’s looking at me. And she’s got that dopey little smile on her face and her tongue is hanging out. And I realize I am no longer nauseous.

I would get sick as a warning for Chris because that was my way of being able to take care of him. We all knew he was going to pass away. And this was something I could do. It was a warning bell that I have no idea why it went off, but it went off every time until he passed away. And my dog does not have the power to be prescient, you know, there’s nothing she could do for me before the fact. But she could see that I was in pain. And I believe in my heart that she could feel my stomach roiling but knew that I was not bright enough to have fed myself for the last couple of days, whereas I made sure she ate all the time. And she says, “I’ll throw up for both of us.”

At that point, I was ready to just sit up. I don’t remember what we watched on TV – probably nothing. We probably just tossed it on for some company. But I remember sitting with my dog just being happy I’m having her. And it was nice to be able to not need to bury myself under the covers for awhile. And she gave that to me.

The world has a weird way of stepping in and making sure that you’re okay. You’re not better because it takes a long time to get better. But for that one second, you’ll be okay. What I got from it later is the belief that, yes, grief will drive you insane. But love Is absolutely magic.

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