Sometime soon I have another year anniversary of not smoking. Is it sometime in August, or September? I just cannot remember… I remember struggling with quitting, then quitting and struggling some, then struggling less, then forgetting, and forgetting more, until suddenly one day I had forgotten that I ever. Where does the time go? Is it five, or six- good lord it cannot be seven…
Cleo has a tumor. My beautiful, perfect dog is dying. She isn’t in pain, hasn’t much slowed down, and doesn’t even act sick. But I know my dog. I woke up last Wednesday and I said "I am taking Cleo to the vet. She is breathing too fast". And she was. Only half her right lung is functional. This tumor will grow fast and she will eventually be unable to breathe. This year she is eleven, Mike says. I thought ten. I bounce back and forth "ten, no eleven, no ten…" what does it matter? Her days are numbered. And I wish I could take some of them back and re-give them to her right. Like the days I smoked in the house selfishly, and her lovely brown eyes got smoke in them, and her lungs breathed it in- she didn’t get a choice. The day when I forgot her outside and the garbage truck came, and terrified her (ten or so years later she can hear a garbage truck from a quarter mile away and panics if she is outside at that time.) The day I smacked her hard on the rump with a shoe when she had chewed up the fourth pair of shoes that week and I lost my temper. The days when I worked all day, and come home to a dog left alone for nearly ten hours, maybe more. Those days she deserves to get back. Where do I find those days back? I suppose I do not. OH I KNOW she had those good days too. Those beautiful days at the lake and the walks together. Days when we sat just her and I on the loveseat outside and she let me cuddle with her. She is not much of a cuddler, not really. She is independent, picky, smart, a little bossy, smiley and funny. But some days, she lets me hold her just a little bit like when she was a puppy. On those days, if we are outside and the breeze is blowing and the sun is shining, well then it is just a little slice of heaven for both of u- I think. I know we had those good days, but a dog like this, a little gem like her… every day should have been a good day for her.
The art teacher that helped to change my life when I was 12 passed away this week, she was a very talented artist, even though her right arm was completely unusable from complications of muscular dystrophy. She died at a younger age- in her sixties. I remember a few summers ago her and her husband rode down my street on their little scooters- hers because of necessity, his scooter because he joined her as they "went for walks". She stopped at my home, she said about Cleo "She’s beautiful". I had never considered my dog anything but cute, maybe a little pretty- but beautiful? No. After that I started looking at every animal differently. Cats are beautiful. Cows, even, can be beautiful. And Cleo is the most beautiful of them all. That teacher always had a way of making me think differently. The world is not a better place without her in it.
Where does the time go? It was almost thirty years ago I was in that art class... When we struggle with something, often it feels like the time is standing still. Like the intermission scene in Gone With the Wind. The sky is colored, and everything is a blur. And nothing moves. Yet, you look back in time you realize that the whole year is gone, bad and all, it is unredeemable, unforgettable, or maybe even very forgettable. There has been entire years I was so damn happy to have them over with, and now here I am with time short with Cleo and I think what the hell was I in such a hurry to be finished with a whole year for? Who thinks like that, who wishes for time to go fast when you have so much to love about every single minute you have? But I have, and I still do sometimes. And just as Cleo deserves to get some days back, I think I do too. But the difference is her bad days she could not help it. I think most of the time I could have prevented my own bad days. Maybe.
I guess it is okay to wish the struggles past us but we must not forget about everything else good in that moment. Then I would guess we would not wish those struggles away any more, would we? But I once heard somewhere- or maybe I even made it up, I don’t know where it came from it is just in my head… If wishes were kisses we would all feel loved.
Love you guys, thanks for being there for all this time. I wish you the best!