I sit and read in a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina, my dog sleeping at my feet. The two of us are alone. When I stand to get something from the kitchen or to use the bathroom, he slowly gets up to follow me, only to return to his original curled up spot here when I return. I suspect that he senses something has gone wrong inside him and that I am his best bet for righting the matter.
But, there is nothing I can do for him – he is slowly dying from a bad heart. I think of him as a leaf falling in the wind: sometimes he is lifted upward, but overall, inevitably, he is headed down toward his flight’s end. For the last several days, including yesterday, he had been lifted upwards. On lifting-up days, I forget he is dying. Today he is falling and I am reintroduced to my sorrow yet again. On falling days, I never know whether there will be anymore lifting-up days for him (and for me as well, I suppose).
We had rented this place to be with my daughters’ families for the weekend. My youngest has since returned home with her husband. My wife and my oldest daughter’s family have gone off for a hike on a nearby mountain. I would have liked to accompany them, but I could see that my dog would not be able to walk any distance, and I felt uncomfortable leaving him here by himself. You might say I worry too much about him, but that’s just the way it is, and I can’t change that. So, I’m going to sit here with him today as long as I can in case this is the day he lands and Death comes to lift him up and take him from me. It is the right thing to do, and I hope someone will sit watch with me when I begin my own descent.