It’s been 5 days since you left us. I’ve been trying to write about you, but I kept waiting until I was able to do so without tears gushing from my eyes. I’ve accepted that that won’t happen for a long time, if ever, just as I have accepted that there really is no such thing as waterproof mascara.
Honey, Honeybear, Boobear, Boodely, Bearbear. You know how I am with nicknames. Whatever the name, you are, like the rose in the famous poem, so sweet.
You only lived with me for a year and a half. When your mommy first brought you here after your great escape with your late brother Rocky (we miss you, Rocketman), I had my rules. No dog on the furniture! As soon as you got here, you jumped up on the bed and plopped down. I opened my mouth to yell at you to get down, but when you looked at me with your soulfully sweet gaze, all that came out was “Oh, screw it.” Your mommy laughed at me, and it was clear who would make the rules from then on. You slept next to me every night. We went to the dog park almost every day, and you showed me what pure joy looks like. You delighted in running around and in stopping next to anyone sitting on one of the benches so they could pet you. You would sit on their feet. I don’t know why, but you loved to sit on people’s feet. Your bro-bro Adam would never let you sit on his feet. He would move them at the very last moment as you sat down. He will have to live with that. We would go for our long walks in the middle of the night, and I was never afraid, because you were with me. You taught me that clean tabletops and countertops were important, because you would steal anything that was edible and in reach. I would get mad at you, but you always forgave me for it and never got mad at me. You loved every child you ever met, and they loved you in return.
You took care of your doggie brothers, Pudgie, Rocky and Macho, but you didn’t take any crap from them. I remember when you and your little brother Macho got into a fight at your mommy’s house one night over a lousy crumb of food. The fight only lasted a minute or less, but your ear got the worst of it, and the whole house looked like a scene out of CSI or Criminal Minds. Your mommy and I were totally freaked out. You and Macho were over the whole thing within seconds as we tried clumsily to bandage your ear and clean up the blood.
Most of the memories are not nearly that dramatic. I’ll think about sitting down to eat and feeling your sweet face resting on my lap. Yes, I would sneak you some food (see what I said about my rules above). I’ll look at the chair you always sat on when you lived with me, your thunder chair (I forgive you for the ugly covers I had to buy for it and the couch, because I didn’t have to heart to make you get down), and I will picture you there whenever it is storming or when the fireworks are going off on holidays. You always felt safe in your thunder chair. I’ll remember (maybe not so fondly) how we would go for walks and how any squirrel would change you from my sweet Boobear into Speed Racer. You completely forgot that I was at the other end of your leash. I know you weren’t trying to kill me, but it felt that way when I would land on the pavement. After the third time, when I could barely walk after a Boobear-inflicted tumble, I had to trade you in for your little brother Macho. I’ll never get over the guilt, but at least I still got to see you all the time. Whenever Machie and I would come up to visit, and it was time for us to go home, you were always at the front door when I would pick up Machie’s leash. You would look at me in anticipation, because you thought you were going with me. Even more than 5 years later, you still thought you were coming with me. It broke my heart every time.
You did stay at my house one more time. This past September, when Hurricane Irma hit, you and Pudgie and your mommy came and stayed here for a couple of days when the power was out at your house. Instead of the thunder chair, you chose the couch. the ugly covers were long gone, so you left your mark on all the furniture. When your mommy and I went to her house to check on things, you and Machie and Pudgie were here alone. I checked all the counters and the table to make sure there was nothing you could get into. When we got back a little while later, I went into the kitchen, and something wasn’t quite right. It took a while, but I finally realized the giant jar I kept dry dog food in was gone. It was usually on a little bench I keep in the kitchen. I went over to the couch, and there was the jar. For the life of me, I will never be able to figure out how you picked up the jar, took it to the couch and unscrewed the top. I was mad at the time, but now I’m glad you and your brothers enjoyed your little feast.
Could that really have been only 4 months ago? You were so happy and seemingly healthy. Things changed so quickly. You started losing weight. Then you were having trouble swallowing, and you couldn’t bark anymore. The vet said it was lymphoma. Of course, I googled. I was heartened a bit when I saw that it could be treated, and dogs were known to live for a couple of years with it until treatment no longer worked. But it was not to be. You just got sicker and sicker. We had a little bit of hope after the chemo treatment gave you back your bark and shrunk the tumors so dramatically. But then you just got sicker and sicker. Your beautiful shiny fur started to fall out, and you had sores all over. My lively and joyful Boobear had no energy, Your mommy and your brother David tried everything to make you better, but we all had to come to accept that that wasn’t going to happen. When I saw your mommy’s phone number on my caller ID on Thursday, and I heard David’s voice, I knew. Before he even said, “Honey isn’t getting any better,” I knew. He asked if Adam and I could come over the next day and spend time with you.
Oh, that last day. Adam and Machie and I came into the house. You were on your pillow in the office, dressed in a t-shirt that covered the open sores where your fur had fallen out. Your breathing was so labored that I thought any moment might be your last. We didn’t know what time the doctor was going to be there, if we had just minutes or a few hours. We all took turns sitting with you and telling you how much we love you. We know you couldn’t hear (you and Pudgie went deaf months ago), but you knew what we were telling you. You even managed to wag your tail more than a few times. When I came back from getting something to drink from the other room, I walked into the office, and I was astonished. I yelled for your mommy to come and see. As weak as you were, I saw you cleaning Pudgie’s face, just as you used to do. It was your last labor of love for your brother. Every once in a while, we would hold a bowl of water for you, and you would drink. However, when your mommy offered you the American cheese you always liked, you refused. We figured that you had no appetite since it was so difficult for you to swallow. However, when your mommy offered you a slice of Hebrew National Bologna (which she would remind everyone cost $12 a pound), you scarfed it down. Your mommy and I looked at each other, and we laughed. She fed you another slice and another and another and another. You had to have eaten at least a dozen slices, maybe more. I think that’s when you taught me one of life’s greatest lessons, my Boobear. Live life and enjoy it, down to the very last minute and to the very last slice of bologna.
I didn’t hear the knock at the door, and Macho didn’t bark for some reason. The lady walked in. She had blond hair and carried one of those old-fashioned doctor’s bags that opened wide at the top. She had a very soft voice and said, “My name is Amanda.” She sat on the floor and patted your back and spoke to us, but I couldn’t really tell you what she was saying, because I could not stop sobbing. She took out her equipment from the bag. She gave you the shot of morphine as your mommy and Adam sat in front of you and patted your head. David stood nearby. I was behind you and held onto your paw as you fell into a peaceful sleep. Then Amanda gave you the shot that stopped your heart and broke ours. She took out a stethoscope, listened and said, “She’s passed.” Then she pressed your paw into a white circle that left an impression of your footprint and put it on the table. She went to her car and returned with a stretcher. She and David put you on it and carried you to the back of Amanda’s car. Your mommy kissed you goodbye, and then I did. You went for your last car ride, and Amanda said she would play the radio for you.
Since then, the weather here has been colder than usual. Today, it’s been raining and cold. This week will be the coldest in a very long time. I can’t get the song Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone out of my head. But I know there will once again be sunshine, and I will be able to think about my Boobear with a few gentle tears instead of blinding ones, as I am experiencing right now. When that happens, I will reflect on the lessons you have taught me. Don’t stay angry, be joyful, love to the very last minute, and always enjoy the bologna.
I love you, Boobear.