Tuesday, July 05, 2005


She liked looking in the mirror while I held her up

I feel as though I first must say that I've been very blessed, because I haven't yet experienced the death of a loved one. I've known people who have died - mostly relatives of my relatives - and it has hurt to know that people I love have been in pain, and it has been sad to know that one less familiar, friendly face is somewhere in the world. All of these friends and family members: you are in my prayers.

On that note, I really miss Cleo, my miniature schnauzer. She was put to sleep April 18th. When she was younger, she was, I must admit....extremely annoying. Barked a lot, jumped up, ran away every chance she could get, ate all of my library books. But I loved her. And I don't want to sound like one of those crazy pet lovers, but she loved me too. She'd come running to the door when I came home, she'd follow me around the house, she'd jump like crazy when I picked her up, she'd sit quietly when I was talking to her and petting her. Right now a kaleidoscope of memories is going through my mind - me dragging her into my grandma's pool and getting scratched because she was scared, her barking every time I got out the peanut butter (because she knew that I'd be making her a peanut butter cracker sandwich), her being off the leash in my front yard and running towards me super fast, then veering off to tease me. Cleo giving me away every single dinner when I slipped her food under the table, because she would bark and then my family would yell at me.

The last few years were rough on Cleo, rough on my family. While I was at school, her health was steadily deteriorating. She went blind, had random nasty tumor things growing on her, she became arthritic. With the blindness and arthritis, she got heavier and heavier, until her stomach looked swollen.

Every time I left for school, I acknowledged that each time that I was seeing her might be the last. I'd always say on my way out "Bye Cleo! I love you and be good!" It was something I said, that followed on the heels of promises to be safe made to my mom.

But I never expected that when I came back from graduation, she wouldn't be there, like she had been for the past 11 years. And still, when I turn the corner into the kitchen, I expect to see her there, parked on her cushion in front of the heat/air conditioning vent. I anticipate hearing her bark as I unlock the back door, I still avoid "poop alley" - where she'd go to the bathroom in my back yard.

But gradually, this feeling is fading. And more and more, I no longer think she'll be there, I don't get that nasty surprise when I realize that the cushion is long gone, that the food bowl that I had tripped over for over a decade isn't in its spot. But as much as it hurt me, I loved that nasty surprise. Because it meant that in that moment before I realized, I had my dog back again.

When washing dishes the other night, I noticed a familiar shape on the windowsill. My mom had saved Cleo's name tag, red metal and shaped like a dog bone. It's so strange to see something that was such a part of her sitting there, as if waiting to be picked up and re-attached to her collar. I picked it up, rolled it in my hand, then put it down.

It's comforting to know that a piece of her is still here.

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