I couldn’t find her. She was there. On the porch. I went inside to start dinner. Then 15, maybe 20, minutes later I went back out and she was gone.
I slipped on my shoes and patrolled the yard, raking every corner with my eyes. The panic began to swell in my chest, then my throat. I shouldn’t have left her alone.
A few months ago we found out that our dog has cancer, a tumor in her lung bigger than a fist that had started to spread throughout her body. We watched her decline like passengers in a boat that had sprung a leak, then another, patching her up while we all held on. Forced breathing. Loss of appetite. Limbs that would suddenly crumple like napkins beneath her. We knew where we were going with her. We were buying time.
But now she was gone.
I grabbed my car key and rolled through the neighborhood, windows down, calling and calling. Jordy!
A dog is more than a pet. She’s a breathing memorial to your family’s life together. She was there with her wide belly for your 5-year-old daughter to rest her head, absolute trust; with your boys in the days when they were weedy and wild, throwing sticks across the lake, splashing together above a muddy clam bed. At your husband’s feet after so many long days, her deep, happy sigh as he rubbed her neck and shoulders. Whatever moments happened between us or among us, she would always love us in the same way, always come when we called.
Until she couldn’t.
As I rolled down a side street, something moved up-ahead. And then I could see – her four legs, withering body. I popped the car into park and jumped out, wrapping my arms around her. “Don’t do that,” I whispered in her ear, then, “I’m sorry.”
And now she is gone. Yesterday we gathered around her, choking back tears as she drifted into sleep one last time. Our sweet, sweet girl – in the heart of our family forever found.
With a Perspective, I’m Susan Dix Lyons.
Susan Dix Lyons is founder of an international health care non-profit based in the North Bay.