It took just ten seconds for him to die, for the fluid to enter his veins, for the drug to hit his heart, and there was just enough time for him to lick his lips, one two three times, just enough time for me to say, "Oh. Good boy. Good boy" as he left, and then he was gone.
Which was surreal, because one second he was still there, still warm and moving slightly under my hands, and then he wasn't.
And it hit me then that it was over, and hit me again and again, as we wrapped him in a blanket,
as people spoke softly about things and moved about the room;
it hit me in waves—until I felt nauseous, and I had to go outside and drink water by the car as they carried him out—that he was gone.
And I wanted to step back in time, to please sit a second more with the breathing him, but that's how it was now and I couldn't change it, and all I could do was keep on living while he didn't.
And now it's been two days and I keep crying.
I miss my dog, and I know people lose dogs all the time, but I can't stop how it hurts. And it has opened up all these holes I thought I'd filled as best I could. I miss my grandmother and I miss my namesake aunt and I think of my father and my friend from high school who died and I think of my mum's best friends and I miss Jennifer.
I miss the space my dog took up on the tiles. I think of the space the living take and how after they leave they're still there, but you can't talk to them and you can't hold them and you can't hear their breathing or their laugh or their voice. You can't read their new words or watch their tail wag as you come up to them for a good scratch and you can't talk to them on the phone.
Their spaces are empty and full at the same time, like the air has rearranged itself in their shape.
And I think of how much space the loved take up.
It's real, because there on those tiles, precisely, is where he lay,
and there in that chair of my memory is my grandmother saying, "Hello! Hello!" as I enter the room,
and there in that hospital bed is my aunt calling out as I leave, "And I love you too, so much!"
and there in that photograph is my dad flying a kite, his hair curling in the wind
and there in her words, is Jennifer always. Noticing, marvelling, guiding me to beauty.
And it is so beautiful when you see what they have left you.
It can take your breath away. Leave you weeping and smiling at once.
Those holes you thought you had to fill just so you could keep moving…
those are the spaces they made and they're not supposed to disappear.
You're not supposed to fill them. Those holes are spaces for light.
I think of my dog and how in his final weeks he lay right in the kitchen by the cupboard so you had to step over him to enter or leave.
On his last day, every time I went near him, he lifted his head and followed me with his eyes
as if to say
And on his last day, before I knew it was his last, I sat with him and brushed his old fur. And he and I looked at each other for long seconds until I put my forehead on his, and after a while he lay back down.
And when it's over you get to keep those moments
forehead to forehead
that you had
and the space they made.
And they follow you as if to say,
Now you get to remember me."