Dearest Rachel –
You remember well that I was, for all intents and purposes, a morning person. Not so much out of choice as necessity; when you have to be at work at a certain time, staying up until 3 in the morning like you and Daniel used to do was just out of the question. Besides, I had to give myself time to shower, shave, get dressed, and read quietly to prepare myself for the upcoming day, all of which takes time. So yes, I was always up at what you considered as obscene an hour as I thought about the time you two stayed up until. I used to refer to ourselves as “Halifax and Honolulu,” based on the wildly differing time zones we seemed to function in.
Over the course of the last couple of years, Halifax moved a bit westward in my state of semi-retirement. Oh, I could never stay awake much past midnight, but I did try. And I wasn’t bothering to wake up bright and early at 5 or 5:30, but generally woke up organically at around 7 or 7:30 instead, glad to never have to listen to the scree-scree-scree of the alarm clock any more. But I often found myself still waiting for you to wake up around 9 or 10, especially on Saturday mornings – it made our little breakfast runs a little hectic, as we had to hurry before the restaurants stopped serving (we were never that much for the lunch offerings at the local fast-food joints, but breakfast? Yes, please).
So in a way, I’m used to the quiet of an empty bed as I call it a night. And the first hour or so in the morning is no more lacking your conscious presence than before.
But these days, there’s something a little more problematic…
I try to get Chompers to take his pain medication about an hour before I would take him into the bedroom for the night, mostly because of the warning about how its side effects include “profound sedation.” But for all that he will literally eat just about anything, he draws the line at that capsule. Even attempting to conceal it in a treat has been difficult, as he somehow manages as often as not to work around it, eating the treat, and leaving the wet and sticky capsule dangling in his beard.
And so, he’s not generally very sleepy when I take him to bed (although that may be aggravated by by taking him outside for a last pee, since the cold serves to rouse him whether that’s a desired outcome or not – spoiler alert, it’s not), and it takes what – at that hour, and for someone who ‘pumpkins out’ by midnight like me – seems like forever to settle down to where he’s comfortable enough to at least try to go back to sleep.
Oh, and he does seem to insist on doing the ‘three-times-around’ thing in order to get his bed “ready” for him to sleep on. Not a problem as such, but now that, by almost automatically crossing his back legs every time he stands up, making even half a revolution is virtually impossible, never mind three.
So yeah, it takes a while to finally call it a night.
And in the morning, it doesn’t take long for him to wake up, either. It’s a rare event that I get to take a shower without him waking up, and going through the process of whimper to whine to bark. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but please, old man, you can hear where I am, can’t you? I’ll get to you once I’m out, dried off and dressed.
But these days, I have a rescuer in the form of Daniel. More often than not, he’s gotten more rest than he used to (and I should point out, this morning was more due to the internet going down last night as opposed to no longer having you as a bad influence regarding staying up late), so when the old man barks, he is Danny-on-the-spot to jump over our bed, and cuddle up against the old boy, murmuring in falsetto to him to calm him down. It would be heartwarming if it weren’t heartbreaking.
You know that neither Daniel nor I really ‘took’ to Chompers the way you did. Both of us were less than thrilled about the smell, the mess and the responsibility of dealing with him. But now that we have no choice but to deal with him, we’re doing our best to take over all that stuff you used to do. And he’s doing real well, tending to his furry little brother. You’d be proud of him, honey, and I made a point of telling him.
“Yeah, I know she is.”
He uses different tenses when talking about you than I do. I take it you two have been hanging out in his dreams?
But I have to say, I’m impressed by his willingness to get close to Chompers these days. He tells me that the old boy is one of God’s creations, just like we are, and worthy of respect regardless. His mind has been broadened by the events of the past month, and I don’t mind saying he’s experienced some incredible growth.
But, like with the newly cleaned kitchen, I wonder if the price was worth it.
We still miss you, honey.
And we will talk again.