That's how love works.
We are living in suspension, making every minute last a full 60 seconds, hoping to make plans (her ears still perk up when I ask if she wants to go) but realizing that the present moment is all we have. She likes me to touch her while she eats. Meals take a long time. I mash her food around in bowl so that she can grab chunks off the fork. I sit on the floor, she stands, and croon to her. After a bite or two she circles me, coming to rest against my side or under my arm. More spoonfeeding, globs of canned puppy formula and doggy drool flecking my pants, hands, arms, and the floor. She never finishes anymore. I am proud to get anything inside her, happy to gaze into her eyes for 15 minutes. The sun is setting on our quality time.
Her liver, which is responsible for metabolizing her pain medication, is giving out. I took her off the medication and she was so miserable that I compromised by reintroducing half the dose. What does it matter? Her time is limited anyway. Mercy is sparing her what pain I can. Yet even in terrible pain, unable to breathe comfortably, she wags her tail and walks around the yard. Champagne doesn't know how to give up.
We had The Talk tonight. Zeke interrupted continuously. When I told her she could go and I'd be okay, she rolled her eyes at him, then looked at me. I said, "I know, he's an idiot. But so were you, and you turned out okay." She cocked one eyebrow and licked me. I told her I love her, that she is a good dog, my best girl. I told her she doesn't have to fight anymore, but that I will fight for her as long as she wants me to. I told her that wherever she finds herself, I hope it's what she needs, and that my deepest regret is that I can't join her. I held her head in my hands and recalled the puppy whose entire self filled that same space. I thanked her for being mine.
She's lying beside me on the bed; neither of us seem to want to sleep. She sleeps all day while I'm at school, dreaming of her like a kid with a new pet. Still crazy after all these years.... I hope she sheds this plane in her own time and by her choice. I don't think she's ready yet; she doesn't seem to understand what I mean. 'It's okay to leave? But why would I want to?' As long as she stays, I will stay beside her. And I'll be there at the end, if she wants me. Shakespeare wrote, "Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove. Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks within his bending sickle's compass come. Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom."
I'm not going anywhere. I will bear these brief hours and look on you, and love, sweet girl. Good night.