A little bit of his hair is in my eye, but I don’t really mind. This has become our bedtime ritual, he waits for me to get into bed and open my ereader before coming to my side of the bed where he sits, watching; going through the motions of politely waiting to be invited up as if he wouldn’t just wait until I was asleep and get on the bed anyway. I move the same blankets to clear the same little space on the sheet which I pat like I do every night and he hops up and plops down next to me, so close that my temple and shoulder are pressed against his back as I read.
He’s warm, it feels good on a cold February night. He runs hot, always has, and he likes to cuddle up. He’s the best dog to take along on the edges of camping season when it might still or already get chilly at night in a tent. My little fuzzy space heater. I wonder if we’ll ever get to take another camping trip together; spring seems so far away. I’m suddenly very glad I took him last fall.
I was worried it would feel desperate and clingy and all-encompassing, this uncertain space of time between knowing and letting go. At first it did, but we’ve made it a month without catastrophe and he’s still feeling well and now that we’re familiar with this place it feels calmer, more ok. Good, even? No, not exactly good, but… it feels pure. It’s surprisingly freeing, all expectations and worry over consequences (go ahead and have a[nother] bite of my sandwich or ten more treats, what’s the worst that could happen you’re dying for crying out loud) have fallen away at the same time patience and forgiveness (muddy pawprints clean up so easily, and you’re not really snoring THAT loudly and I only need half the pillow anyway) have blossomed and what is left is so true and pure and full of old memories and new memories being born.
It occurs to me that this is how we should be with all those we love, all the time. We’re all dying, really, just some more imminently than others. I wonder if I’m capable of doing so. I decide to try, though patience has never been my strong suit.
With that thought, I close the reader and as I set it on the nightstand we both sigh our last sigh before sleep, another ritual; I think he just enjoys the memory foam mattress topper but for me it means “yup, we had another good day together.” I know it’s real, that he’s still here for now. I’ve got his hair in my eye to prove it.
(Edit: Because this post has been shared with people who don’t know us, I’d like to clarify that Pip has been diagnosed with a malignant form of cancer called hemangiosarcoma. We don’t know exactly how long we have left with him, but we are looking at months. Writing this has been an effort to help sort out my feelings about knowing what, but not knowing when. As of today he is feeling well and we are trying to just live in that state of pure enjoyment each day. Thanks for kind words and thoughts, and if you’re going through the same thing, you’re not alone.)