• Summer Rain Townsend

Losing Liam

Updated: Feb 3


This is a journey into suffering, trauma and love. A way to create a dialog within myself to heal, so that this particular sticky trauma doesn't destroy my capacity for love.

Liam saved my life and I his. I speak to those close to me about "the death", my death, a shamanic process of shedding ones skin to become something new, something better, more capable and able to thrive instead of just survive.

Liam was and is instrumental in this.

I had an early midlife crises. I lost or gave away everything, not only that, I pushed.

My business, house, friends and chosen family.

As I was in this tumultuous dark night of the soul, Liam came to me, right at the beginning of a many years long process that would be the end of everything I had "built".

Is it fitting to say he will be leaving me at the beginning of my new life? Is he my familiar to guide me through one of the most confusing and painful times of my life?

Liam, my beautiful, loving, 6 year old, one-eyed Pitty.

He sleeps now snuggled up with a stuffed mouse I bought him at the gas station today. His last...

I'm remembering now his first toy was a stuffed mouse. I sewed that thing together so many times, until it was a small square of matted fur. I didn't grab the mouse on purpose, but here it is.

I can hear his bubbled breathing, occasionally snarfling the blood which is coming from somewhere in his broken jaw, sneezing out yet another shard of bone. This would be his 8th surgery in three years.

It isn't the Addison's Disease that will take his life,

It will be me...


I promised to always take care of him. He was found at 4 weeks old, attached to his dead mothers nipple, in an almond orchard somewhere in LA. His eye was pulled from the socket. He was bloated, malnourished, worm infested and dehydrated. They saved his life and named him Liam, which means warrior.

Through an intense background check with friends, family and my old vet, this little broken thing came to live with me. He became everything. He is still everything.

I do not seek sympathy or validation, I know what I have sacrificed for this being and I would do it again.

He is on the bed now. My blanket is blood spattered. The blood comes from his nose. It wont stop.


Liam showed me, as my life was splintered around me like so much glass, that I was capable and deserving of love. That my past and present did not dictate my worthiness, nor the abuse I have suffered as indicative of my value. I would not have survived, I don't think, the storm without him.


Unconditional love, I don't know if he feels this for me. People say dogs do. But Vet visit after visit, surgery after surgery, trauma after trauma, I feel he loves me and fears me. This is unbearable.

I can't tell him I'm helping, I mean I do, but does he know?

I feel unconditional love for him, not grasping needy love, which is my experience with love in the past, but true to the bones, spiritual, this is reason for living, LOVE.


She comes at Noon tomorrow, the end of life vet. She tells me he's so young, there is more to be done. She can't fathom why I need her. She does not know, she can't know. Yet she didn't ask...

He is so peaceful now, his soggy new toy under one big white paw.

Liam helped me live when I didn't know how to survive. His big seemingly strong body is crumbling from the inside out, one would not see this by looking at him. He is strapping! Seventy pounds, playful, and a snuggler from hell. He will crawl up on your lap first thing in the morning and meditate.

I saved his life and now I must help him die.

This feels insurmountable, no, it IS. My world is crumbling, breaking apart but there is a piece inside me, a shining beacon of strength that Liam put there.

My body is in convulsions of anguish as I write this, yet there he is, solid as a fucking stone, broken and sick, my foundation. He was supposed to get better. He didn't.

There is a part of the story that no one in my situation will speak of.

The relief of letting go. I am a monster.

Every cent (about $20k to be real) every resource, every dream for myself, sacrificed for a better life for him, for proper medical care. I would do it again.

I am traumatized.

The fear of not being able to fix him one more time, fear he will hate and fear me if I take him to that ominous building again, where strangers cut him open.

I cannot speak for the parent of a child with terminal cancer, I can speak for the parent of a pet with terminal illness and peripheral issues.


The relief is on the other side of the wall of flowers and sunrises that I have built for us, each neck of the woods and cold river conquered. Relief is on the other side of the look on our veterinarians face when she has more bad news.

This waiting for tomorrow, never comes, it is oblivion.

The paradox of loss and relief is a meditation I will become proficient in, for I know these waters well, I am drowning in them.










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