Dearest Rachel –
Lately, whenever I take Chompers out for his last pee of the night, I find myself looking up at the sky. Down Wilke Road, to the south, hangs one star that shines brighter than all the others:
Sirius. The dog star.
It’s the star that gives ‘the dog days of August’ their name, as it is in ascendance during that month. But now, as September comes to a close, it is beginning its decline. As is the old man, it would seem.
It would seem from my letters to you this week that this is Dog Week, in much the same way the Discovery Channel has Shark Week every year. Although, unlike that channel, it’s not likely to repeat. Which, for all I know, will be disastrous for my future analytics; I seem to have a fair number of subscribers that (based on their own handles) are checking in specifically for the dog stories. At least they get one last series before the whole arc goes nova.
This wasn’t supposed to be that sort of week. This is just supposed to be a week of lazing around with Kevin, sharing stories, doing as much nothing as possible. Maybe checking out a few restaurants on his behalf, and seeing what he thinks of them. But circumstances have intervened, and old Chompers has to be taken care of somehow.
I really don’t know how this is going to work. My guess is that, in the morning, when we go to the clinic, the vet will confirm what I already know – that the old boy needs to be put out of his misery. Now, I don’t know if that’s something that can be done on the spot, or whether that will have to be prepared for (in which case, we’ll presumably need to return at the original appointment time on Saturday).
I’ll be honest, honey. I have mixed feelings about all this. I don’t like having to give up on him, but I’m fairly convinced I did my best with him. I don’t know if he’s ever really enjoyed the time since you left; I would like to think he was suitably comfortable, but happy? I doubt it. Neither Daniel nor I was ever very hands-on with him before your accident, and while Daniel seems to have figured out when and how he wants affection, I think he knows that we have no idea how to give that to him.
It seems so wrong to admit that his departure would come as a relief to us. With him gone, there are things we can do, places we can go without having to worry about “who’s going to take care of the dog in the meantime?” Granted, some of that may yet be hampered by Daniel’s insistence on neither masking nor getting vaccinated, but we’ll see how that goes for him by the end of the year (at his own assertion). In the meantime, I may actually do some snap travel between now and then. We’ll just have to see.
On the other side of things, it may well be that I can actually start to grieve for you in a way that I couldn’t when I was burdened with the responsibility of taking care of him on your behalf. Those first few days and weeks were made that much more difficult by the fact that I couldn’t wrap myself in grief because he need attending to. It was one of the few things where I might expressed bitterness or resentment about you leaving, and more to the point, leaving me with your responsibilities. Will I be able to step back and just truly absorb the reality of your absence, once he’s gone? Or has it been long enough that I already need to accept the fact that you’re gone, and that period of wallowing in grief is no longer an option?
And then there’s the question about Daniel, and what course to set him on for the rest of his life. While I want to commend him for stepping up and taking care of the old boy while I’ve been at ‘work’ during many days, and in particular giving him affection in a way that I literally cannot bear to even now without going through a ridiculous amount of soap, I don’t know what direction to point him in so that he reacquaints himself with the wider world. The boy has a degree, after all; it’s time that he should make his mark in the world, and contribute to society. But of course, there are his certain believes that I am unable to dissuade him from that still prevent him from setting forth; that is an entire cannery of worms I’d just as soon not deal with yet.
But with Chompers’ decline, Daniel is likely next on the agenda.
Of course, I may be getting ahead of myself. It may not be tomorrow, like I said earlier. This may be something we need to work through all the way to Saturday.
On the other hand, sweetheart, if you were to spirit the old boy away tonight, it would probably be for the best for all of us. As it is, I’m still not looking forward to having to send him off toward the Rainbow Bridge on his own.
At least if I do, I know you’ll be waiting for him. Until then…