Friday, May 19, 2006
Two old dogs
Haley died a year ago this weekend. This is the last photo taken of the two of us together, taken by my neighbor's dogsitter.
There actually aren't many pictures of the two of us together. Partly this is because I'm usually the one behind the camera, partly because I'm a lot camera-shy, and partly because...I guess it just never occurred to me to have a portrait done of the two of us together until after she was gone. Someday I will create one.
This isn't the best picture ever of me, nor of her. It was the Saturday of her final visit to the vet, May 21, 2005, a few hours after we had gotten the news. I was slumped into an Adirondack chair, my coat pulled close against the unseasonal cold of last May, wrapped around me as a cloak of grief. My face is red from the cold...and the crying...and from rosacea and whatnot. The cold made Haley's survival possible for as long as she lived. Warmer weather would have killed her faster; as it is she spent her last two hours of life with her head against a fan, the cooling breeze pointed at her panting tongue.
Haley doesn't look her best because she had less than 36 hours to live before her cancer would kill her. She looks so small, so thin, so bony, her luxurious orange and white fur coat flat and dull. I have her harness on - why the hell did I have her harness on? At that point she could barely stand, or walk; surely I didn't think she would run away? But I think I had it on for two reasons: It was there to help me help her to stand up without placing too much strain on any point in her body. And it was there as a refusal to give in to the inevitability of death. Not yet, you son of a bitch. Not yet.
(I am crying now.)
Haley was my best and closest friend. We walked together for hundreds of miles. We shared many, many experiences. She is gone now, gone for a year. She is a pile of ashes in a beautifully carved box that sits on the chest of drawers that once held her pills. I accept this.
But still I am allowed to miss her. Still I am allowed to cry.