She was fine.
Okay, a bit lame,
but her old fiesty self,
barking at the murderers and robbers who deliver the mail,
and barking when we come home, “Hooray! You’re here to feed me!”
And the wild, wild thumping of her
inexplicably wood-like tail,
whack-whack-whacking on the hard-wood floors,
announcing to the world her love-love-love.
We took a walk with friends down the hill to the fields
where she loves to sniff the deer shit, and the turkey shit
and all the poo and death of other animals….
Sometimes, the stink is so delicious she rolls in it,
coating her neck with some horrific, larvae-infested dead thing
that embeds grease in her coat, that makes her neck stink,
makes us shampoo and rinse her a hundred times upon return,
and we ask, why why why?
But this particular Saturday she walks up the hill behind us
as if she suddenly turned into an old lady.
She comes tentatively,
And when she makes it home,
she collapses on the floor in exhaustion.
Okay, okay, she’s an eighty year old lady,
fair enough, that was too much.
Okay girl, take a well-deserved rest.
But Sunday morning she goes to the top of the porch stairs
and stands there without moving.
When I encourage her down into the yard
she sways, drools and collapses.
I stay home from work on Monday. And Tuesday.
I spend the days watching her unable to move.
Our son, Ranin, carries her out to the yard to poo and pee and carries her back in.
“Good girl, you went potty! Good girl!!!
I spend four nights on the dining room floor with her,
listening to her pant, and cry out in pain when she tries to stand.
In the mornings, Ranin carries her outside again to pee.
Her legs fold over each other in the front and back.
And she collapses and lays there trying to recover.
Finally she gets up again and poops like a champ.
All day she lays on her bed,
until we take her out midday
to lay in the sun.
And we bring her back in.
And she’s been lying in her bed
all day now, and we know
that soon she may not have
the strength to make it outside.
So I buy a tarp and doggie pee pads.
And plan for the next two or three days.
When Grace can come home
and sit watch.
We try to wait for Tadin
to return from a job out of state
so he can say goodbye,
And when our oldest boy, Tymon, in NY can weigh in.
Meanwhile I’m listening to her panting,
and heavy breathing.
I see her immobility.
The sweetness of her brown eyes and kind smile.
And I know, that this being, is one of the purest
and most authentic beings I’ve ever known.
How can I acknowledge her essence?
When we finally take her to the vet,
the sun is shining, the birds are chirping.
She's on the tailgate and she perks up.
The vet gives us a lot of time, and they're so kind.
We take turns kissing her, over and over,
telling her how brave she is,
how much we love her,
how loyal and loving she's been,
how kind. And when the time comes
we're all touching her.
Her breath is so labored,
and suddenly she is free.
I gasp "Wow", because when she is released
from her body, it's sacred.
We realize we've witnessed something
She has a heart of hearts.
A soul of souls.
And all I can do is say,
I saw you.
I felt you. I know you.
You were my best friend.
And your beauty is transcendent,
and will inhabit my heart
Now and forever. Amen.
Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.