Trying Not to Think About Loss

lying on back
Although he looks like he’s dead, he’s really just relaxing. I’ve tried this pose. Human bodies were not made to do this!

Pettigrew has had a tough week. He’s still limping. His stomach is off. And the temperature has soared into the 90s.

He’s not a stiff upper lip kind of dog, so I’ve had a hard week too. He’s kept me busy getting up early to take him out, boiling rice, and poaching chicken. He finished off our container of organic basmati white rice, scarfed down a bag of supermarket brand white rice, and is starting on the second bag. I made two cups of rice this time. Maybe if I make more than I think he could possibly need, it will be like bringing your umbrella so it won’t rain; he’ll get better before we finish the rice. I can freeze the extra.

It all started last Sunday. It was a double hit: his stomach rebelled and then the weather turned steamy.

On Wednesday we started to reintroduce dog food. It was too soon. Only the kitchen on our first floor was spared signs of his overnight gastric distress. Why hadn’t he barked to let us know?

He is dragging on his walks. Going for as short a time as he can and spending much of it trailing behind me as far as the leash will allow. Is it the heat? The stomach troubles? Is it just age?

Pettigrew is nine and a half. No longer a young’un. And after a week like this one, he’s looking old. His coat isn’t glossy. He’s moving slowly. He seems depressed.

I’m not ready for this. I’ve just started writing about him. He’s my muse after all. He can’t check out. Plus, he’s my walking buddy. I love to walk. Before Pettigrew, I walked with friends. The conversation was more stimulating, but they were never as committed or reliable as he is. It was too cold or too dark or too wet or they overslept. Pettigrew pushes me to walk even when I don’t want to. He needs it as much as I do, if not more.

Would I get another dog if he died?

It’s hard to imagine. He’s a distinct personality. His presence touches my life in so many ways. I can’t contemplate another dog.

I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. A few months ago, a friend’s mother died. Before her death, her son-in-law called because he was concerned. A doctor himself, he wanted to consult with my husband, they met during their training. His mother-in-law had an infection. He wasn’t sure the doctors she was seeing were treating it correctly. They seemed to be switching antibiotics without a plan or purpose. What did my husband think? My husband talked with his friend and shared his advice. The next we knew there was a post on Facebook. Our friend’s mother had died. Her doctors were unable to get ahead of the infection. It was too late.

Although when I was in my 20s, friends of mine lost their parents, it felt like a remote event. Now, it‘s different. Like this death was the first of what would become increasingly common.

A few weeks ago another friend’s father succumbed to the disease he had been fighting for close to a year.

Another friend’s mother, her partner recently died, and she was unable to live on her own. They placed in an assisted living situation.

While it’s hard to think of my own parents and aging, I do think about Pettigrew a lot.

Death lurks. It’s part of the life cycle after all. My brain touches on it and retreats. Afraid to peer too closely around the corners. Yet, I am beginning to look more carefully, to pause before I turn away from the thoughts.

I try to remind myself that we only have the now. Getting older only increases the likelihood of something that is really always a possibility, even if I struggle to accept it.

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