The Wound

When the intercom at the doctor’s office said, “operating room one is ready,” I imagined it was for me – that I would go into the sterile room and the doctors would remove the lump in my throat and replace the emptiness in my chest with something, anything that would fill the hole.

RIP my little soulmate.

Preparing

Lately, we’ve been conversing more. About when we first met, how he grew to love a tennis ball. Man, that boy of mine could catch a ball 50 feet out and never once made me feel bad when I threw poorly. Tireless, never giving up on the yellow ball, never keeping it out of his sight, wedging it under my butt if I didn’t pick it up when he dropped it at my feet.

We talk about how, in his younger days, he wasn’t a swimmer. Yet he stood on the edge of the pool to catch all the water splashes coming his way.

Cole, my shadow. After 15 years of chasing balls, his four mini-Aussie legs don’t work so well anymore. Now I must carry his thirty pounds up and down the stairs so he can be with me. He’s sad, worried, when I’m not around.

Now, the ball is just another object he has to maneuver around. And digging an imaginary dirt hole in the carpet to rest is no longer an option. Walking out to the grass to do his business seems to take forever (for him, not me).

Palliative care, says the vet. Okay, we can do that.

We talk about that horrible time he had to go to doggy jail for nipping at a UPS man in our driveway. The price he had to pay for protecting me. And no, I had no visitation rights. But after 8 days, we were reunited, kisses and licks abound.

I remind him how I promised to care of him. He agreed that I had. I told him that part of taking care of him meant I wouldn’t let him suffer, but that he has to tell me when life has become too hard. He licked me and said he would.

But, as of now, he eats and drinks. His cataract-ridden eyes glisten and widen when I pull out his turkey treat. His old teeth chomp down on the hard strip until it disappears. He heads for the water bowl.

And when the time comes, I’ll remind him of how he took such good care of him, that he performed his job flawlessly. I’ll tell him he worked hard and deserves to rest. That it will be okay.

Afterward, I will trudge back up the stairs to my office, thirty pounds lighter, yet hundreds of pounds heavier in heart. I will remind myself that I did the right thing. Yet, I know my heart won’t believe me.

But today, we still have each other. As I type, Cole lays beside me snoring softly, his tired legs still. At this moment, there is still time for more hugs and kisses. I will continue to whisper assurances that, when the hard part comes, we’ll be together.

A Lesson Tethered to a Bad Memory

A sunny spring day and all the kids were across the street playing. I decided to take Buffy outside with me without a leash, something I never did – not even as a ten-year-old.

We went across the street to the Mandy’s to  play with the other neighborhood kids. Buffy was so happy to be the center of attention. But she didn’t know the limits like we did.

I saw her run towards the street. I saw a car going to fast coming down the street. I yelled for her to come back but she didn’t. She ran in front of a parked car. The speeding Mr. Jolly didn’t have the chance to see her.

I heard the thudding sound under the car. I heard the screech of the tires. I heard the screaming inside my head and the bursting of my heart.

Me, the one who treated even my stuffed animals with care and tenderness. And I would have to live with this new feeling of intense guilt.

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I know. Not such a “jolly” memory for today’s prompt. Nevertheless, a true story that changed my life. Life is full of lessons tethered to both good and bad memories.  Over the years, I have loved many dogs and I do my very best to keep them out of harm’s way.

via Jolly

Waiting for Our Hearts to Mend

I will gorge myself with feathers

to be light upon my feet

as I traipse across the foothills

shaking every paw I meet

I will stroke the furs with touches

soft and kind will be my voice

as I offer safety, comfort

and a reason to rejoice

But one specific fellow waits

to be uncaged, set free

my precious friend, I’ll be there soon

both rescued, you and me.

 

For my sweet Cole – a mini-Aussie current with his vaccines –  who was sent to quarantine for nipping  the Fed-Ex man on our property.

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via Gorge

The Good Thing about “Meh” Posts

Yesterday was a “meh” post day for me – a cute puppy and an attempt at a witty daily word prompt.

The good thing about a “meh” post is thinking about it.

So, today, learning the new prompt, I thought more about puppies and remembered something. Something I was told and continue to love.

A few weeks after a friend’s beloved dog died, he had a dream. In the dream, “Max,” Ethan’s Cocker Spaniel, came to visit and spoke to him.

Ethan said, “Max, I didn’t know you could talk.”

“Of course we can,” he said. “We’re just not supposed to show it.”

“Well, what do you do all day?” Ethan asked.

“Oh, I sit at the feet of God.”

Ethan said, “What does that feel like?”

“Well, you know how when you yawn and, when the yawn’s over, how good it feels? It’s like that.”

 

I love this dream.

So I wonder if the God in Ethan’s dream is surrounded by a zoo of deceased and beloved pets, all yawning with contentment. I hope so. It’s a beautiful image.

Thinking of you sweet Lizzy and Luther.

via Zoo

That rare gift of laughter

One Thanksgiving when we lived in the Tourist Court, we had enough food for Mother to make a real meal, but it was Pooch who landed on Plymouth Rock. We didn’t have money to buy a turkey, but somehow Mother got hold of an old hen to cook. She baked it for most of the morning, even making cornbread dressing to go with it, which, for her, was like pulling a cart full of lead. She set the food on the kitchen table to let it cool while we went to the drug store to get Dad his medicine. Seeing as how it was Thanksgiving, the drug store was closed and Dad had to rely on his refrigerated liquid medicine to make it through the day.

When we got back home, Dad opened the door and what we saw made my mother want to spit cactus needles. There on our kitchen table laid scattered bones where our chicken used to be and only half of what used to be a whole pan of dressing.

We looked around the corner into the bedroom. Lying on Mother and Dad’s bed, head on a pillow and wearing a smile that stretched from Rotan to Sweetwater, was Pooch. We were the three bears coming home to find out that our porridge had been eaten, but this time, not by a little blonde-haired girl but a Curbstone Setter with an eyepatch.

Pooch’s smile disappeared when he caught sight of Mother spitting fire from her eyeballs, and coming at him with a big broom in her hand. Once those straw bristles touched his butt, he was out the door lickety split.

We ate the leftover dressing and the pinto beans, which had been safe from the theiveing on top of the stove. Mother’s teeth were so clenched with madness, I’m still not sure how she got anything into her mouth. Dad, on the other hand, was trying not to laugh, and he looked like he was enjoying every bite of the scant Portions.

“Ain’t it surprisin’ how full we can get without eatin’ meat?” Dad says stuffing more beans into his mouth, his eyes pushed into a squint by his smiling cheeks.

“It ain’t funny, Wayne,” Mother says.

We all stayed quiet for a bit so Dad could concentrate on keeping his food in and his laugh from coming out. Then he mumbled out loud, “Guess we’re not saving any leftovers for Pooch.”

I couldn’t help it. I had to stick my head under the table and hold my breath to try to keep my own laugh from spewing across the table.

Dad leaned back in his chair, pushed his plate away, patted his belly, and said, “I ate so much I think I got a little pooch.” That’s all it took. My sides started to split right along with Dad’s. Delma giggled, and Mother, although she tried to hide it, was starting a grin all her own.

Pooch didn’t show up until later that night, when everything was calm again and the chicken and dressing had settled nicely in his belly.

Even though we had beans, cornbread, and dressing for Thanksgiving, it was Pooch who really celebrated the feast of the pilgrims. And, I think because of that, Pooch had given us a rare gift around the supper table: laughter.

Excerpt from No Hill for a Stepper (for those who have enjoyed these excerpts, remember you can order the novel on Amazon. 

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Daily word prompt:Portion