I’d hoped he might rally, live on until spring. I didn’t want to surrender him too early, but I was just as determined not to prolong any suffering. Truthfully, these aren’t decisions I’m comfortable making — I simply don’t know. When his back legs gave out while he ate breakfast I felt it was time.
I’m too fresh from the veterinarian’s to be rational and objective, I know. Hell, I fled into the storage room as they prepared my bill, sobbing and blubbering amid the cat food. Surely the overwhelming sorrow will lift and I’ll be able to think of the little dude without weeping. And feeling guilty. And responsible. And wondering if maybe I jumped the gun or fearing I waited too long.
This terrible sadness is the reason I never considered marriage; it’s why I didn’t want kids. I won’t risk being heartbroken, I hate feeling helpless and exposed. I’d rather be imprisoned. Or beaten. Or both. His loss has cratered me.
Then, too, it’s unleashed all kinds of complicated, unwelcome questions. The kind no one wants to linger over. Existential stuff, mostly — what’s the meaning of life, why are we here, does life really end? What, exactly, is the structure and property of matter like ours? What are we besides water and molecules? That kind of cosmic, unanswerable nonsense.
I want to believe the dog has recaptured the exuberance age and blindness stole from him. That he’s moved on, in all his original splendor, to a life every bit as glorious as this one. Is that possible? What are the odds we’ll again meet up with those we’ve lost? More remote than a lottery win? Equal to finding a Renoir at a rummage sale? See, I’m afraid it’s impossible, totally far fetched. And I don’t want to think that. I can’t.
So I’ve decided not to. Right now it’s easy to think he’s alive and thriving; I see him everywhere. Sleeping beside the drawing board, strolling into the bedroom, sitting by his food bowl. My heart implodes when I realize it’s a mirage, but is it? I wonder.
I’m leaving the possibility open.
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