We are in the twilight days. We spend a lot of time laying on the floor; petting his face, his sore body, his soft ears. Holding hands because he always loved to hold hands. I whisper stories to him of his younger days. His fetching days; his victory laps. His swimming days; the lakes, rivers, streams, and ponds that brought relief on hot summer days. His bird-searching, sagebrush uprooting days. His bright-eyed, full of energy days.
In these twilight days he moves little, and only for necessity. He moves slowly. His body failing him. He doesn’t have much energy. He relishes soft, cool, quiet, and close. The whole human pack stays near by, encourages and coaxes, watches and listens and tries to understand what he’s telling us with his big brown eyes.
In these twilight days, the hole in my heart grows exponentially. I cannot fathom life without my companion of these last 13 years. I cry a lot. I feel bad for my sadness. I chastise myself. He’s still here.
“You are doing it right,” Ted tells me. Is there a wrong way? I wonder. But, still. It’s comforting.
I take pictures. I put down the camera. I chastise myself. Relish the moments.
But these are not the moments I want to remember. They are not the moments he wants to be remembered by either, I’m quite sure. Could he speak, he would tell me to remember the stories of his younger days. The fetching days. The sleeping all together in the bed days. The swimming together days. The summer days we wandered the sagebrush and CRP, looking for birds, happening upon elk sheds, and sharing fast food french fries. Howling together at sirens and coyotes and neighbor dogs. His paw in my hand. His head on my lap. “Remember me full of energy, with light in my eyes,” he would implore.
And so I lie on the floor, holding him close and petting his soft, tired body and I whisper to him that there will never be another, that he is the best ever, that I will miss him so, and that I will try.