Monday, March 13, 2017
"Should I take her to the doctor today?" my husband asked.
"Not today," I murmured, willing back the tears flooding my eyes.
It was a coward's answer.
It was such a beautiful day, one of the first days of spring. The sun had already warmed up the air that wrapped itself around us and the sound of birds invited all who were listening out to play. I looked down at the gray muzzle of our Sophie, the 15-year-old lab mix who had been our child since before the arrival of our human sons. She stood awkwardly, her joints stiff with arthritis. The tail that always had seemed to be in motion, hung limp behind her. I looked away, not wanting to see in her eyes what I was afraid to see.
I wasn't ready to let her go.
How could 15 1/2 years go by so quickly? I remembered the darling little black and white puppy she had been when we got her. She had actually been adopted by an employee of my husband, but her apartment didn't allow dogs. Why she had adopted Sophie, I couldn't say. Maybe it was fate. I was dubious when Dan told me about the dog and asked if we should take her. We had only moved into our new house four months earlier and were trying to have a baby. A dog really wasn't part of the plan. Then, he showed me a picture, and that was that.
We fell in love with Sophie immediately. She grew quickly from tiny puppy to strong dog, full of energy. She loved fiercely and made me feel safe on nights alone, knowing she would alert me to danger with her deep, ferocious bark. Strangers had no way of knowing that that was as far as her ferociousness went.
I honestly couldn't recall living in this house without her. Sophie was part of what made this house a home. And here we were, cautiously contemplating life without her.
"Sophie's not doing well," my husband repeated, continuing our earlier conversation as he walked into the bathroom where I had sought refuge from reality in the shower. There had been no refuge. My time alone hadn't done anything more than allow me to feel even more heavily the weight of what my husband was asking and to cry in private.
Pretending the streaks down my face had been caused by the shower, I replied, "I know." That was about all I could manage to say.
"Jack is going to take it the hardest," he said.
"No," I answered. "You will."
"But I'll hide it better."
And he would. He will. For as much as I want to deny it, the time is coming when we will have to face the truth that Sophie's time has come.
I just didn't want it to be today.
I wanted her to enjoy the gentle warmth of a lovely spring day. Maybe I was hoping for a miracle. In those few quiet moments of solitude, I had sent out a prayer that I would be forgiven for my cowardice and that she would go peacefully on her own in her own time, here in her home where she has loved and been loved.
I'm not sure how much solace that will bring. Somehow, as tragic as it is to lose a pet. this feels like we are losing even more, that her passing will bring an end to an era. An era I'm not ready to see come to an end.