Say Good-bye

Free Say Good-bye by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Authors: Laurie Halse Anderson
but her expression is calm. “Is it worth it, Dr. Edwards?”
    Dr. Edwards sighs wistfully and shakes her head. “That’s a very difficult question to answer, Jane. I have two dogs myself.” She points to a photograph on her desk of a pair of beautiful golden retrievers. “Morgan and MacDougal. They’re very special to me. And working here, of course, I’ve thought about what I’d do myself. But it’s a very individual decision, Jane, one that no one can make for you.”
    Dr. Edwards leans forward across her desk. “Every dog—just like every person—is unique, and we have to deal with each case in a different way. Chemotherapy will be a big investment onyour part—an investment of money, an investment of time, and an emotional investment, too. Many dogs do well under chemotherapy, and we’re able to extend their lives by many months. We can even cure some cancers. But if it becomes clear that the treatment is not working, that your animal is in pain or severe discomfort, We will inform you of that. Only you can decide what you want for Yum-Yum.”
    She swivels in her chair and nods at me. “We hope, by the time this young woman is grown, to have this stuff under control—if not totally cured. But for now, Jane, this is the best we can offer.”
    “What’s best for Yum-Yum,” Jane says. “That’s what I want.”
    “It’s your decision. But I would urge you to try to come to a decision as soon as possible. Now—today—if you can. If you do decide to do the chemotherapy, we don’t want to waste any time. We should go ahead and start—this afternoon.”
    “Can I have a few minutes?” Jane asks.
    Dr. Edwards smiles. “Of course. I’m going to check on another patient. Then I’ll be rightback.” She gets up and leaves the office, closing the door behind her to give Jane privacy.
    Jane holds Yum-Yum in her arms and gazes out the window.
    I decide to give her some time alone, too. I move toward the door. “I think I’m going to go look for a soda machine,” I say softly. “Can I bring you anything?”
    “No thanks, dear,” Jane says, without looking up.
    I head out to the front desk and ask the nurse if there are any snack machines around. I follow her directions, digging change out of my pockets. I walk very, very slowly.
    Jane has a lot to think about. I want to give her all the time in the world.
    •  •  •  •  •  •  •
    When I get back with my soda, Jane is sitting in the waiting room. Things have happened fast.
    “Where’s Yum-Yum?” I ask.
    Jane reaches out for my hand. “I decided to go ahead with the chemo,” she says. “To see if I can give him a few more months of quality time.”She looks at me, and this time her eyes are strangely dry. “I hope I did the right thing, Zoe. I just feel like I have to at least try.”
    I reach over and give her a hug. “Yum-Yum is lucky to have you,” I whisper into her shoulder. She squeezes me hard, then lets me go.
    “So now what happens?” I ask.
    “Yum-Yum’s in there now, getting his first treatment.”
    “Won’t they let you be with him?” I ask. “You should insist!”
    Jane shakes her head. “The chemotherapy drugs are given through an IV. You know what that is, don’t you?”
    I nod. Since I’ve been at the clinic, I’ve seen Gran do it. It’s a way to inject a liquid drug through a needle directly into a vein.
    “They say it’s very important for the dog to stay completely still during the treatment,” Jane continues. “They say it’s actually easier on the animal if the owner isn’t there. They’ll have someone hold Yum-Yum still, but Dr. Edwards assured me that they’re very kind and gentle.”
    “How long will it take?” I ask.
    “About thirty minutes,” Jane says.
    That’s quick. I ask her if she wants to take a walk with me, or if she wants a magazine or some coffee.
    But Jane says she just prefers to sit and wait.
    So we sit. My opened soda can stands untouched on the chair beside me,

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