I’ve been saying that every day for the last year-plus. My little two-point-whatever pound blind yorkie would bark every time I came in my room, or if I suddenly moved and made a noise other than the ticking of laptop keys. It was annoying.
“It’s mama, Spike. Stop barking.”
That’s all it would take, though, and he’d curl back up in his bed, tucked against the bookcases behind and beside me. I said it for the last time yesterday morning when I checked my email before I left for work.
Spike was one of those dogs that, for a very long time, everyone assumed was a puppy because he was so, so small–the two-point-whatever pound estimate is not an exaggeration. I had a friend who would tuck Spike into his inside jacket pocket in joking attempts to steal him. In the last few years, I often told people he was older than dirt, because I couldn’t remember exactly when his birthday was anymore, only that he was somewhere between eleven and thirteen years old. It’s why I make a big deal about how old Lily is–one should remember things like that. All I can say in my defense is that it was a shitty time in my life (not long after my divorce) and I (probably purposefully) don’t remember a lot of things from back then, but I remember the day he was born well enough, because both myself and my daughter were there to watch his wiggly-worm, two-inch-long-self come into the world. He was ‘the prince’ and he, along with Kal, ruled this house. They were my constant comfort when the world was upside down and sideways.
Now, he and Kal are both gone.
Until I typed that sentence, that fact hadn’t hit me and the tears had been few.
When I got home yesterday, I spent a couple hours with the husband in our normal daily talk about politics, at work and in the world at large, before I wandered into “my room,” as everyone now calls it. I sat down in my chair and opened up my email when I finally noticed that Spike didn’t bark. I spun the chair around and looked down, and he was under his blanket, but his head was stuck out and lying a little funny. Spike always curled up in a ball, because he was tiny, and old, and cold. I watched for a second as had become habit because I knew how old he was and the normal concern had been growing for months. This time, his little chest didn’t rise. I used to pray that Spike would go peacefully in his sleep, and he did.
See, I’m this hard-ass, tough as nails, bitch–no, really–so when something painful hits, I freeze up, and go about things in the most mechanical ways. Or at least, I try to. I reached down and petted his little head, then got up and tapped on my husband’s man cave door. Much like I had with Kal, I said, “Spike died.” What else was there to say? Before the hubs could gather his wits and come out, I had Spike wrapped up in his blanket and a shovel in my hand. The gods were merciful, because unlike when I buried Kal, the ground didn’t fight me and I was able to handle it myself. It feels to me now like the place beside Kal was ready for him–he was so old, so feeble, it was time–so it made the job easy. I sent a few texts to people who had loved Spike, or people I just wanted to ‘touch’ for a second, then ignored the ringing cell phone because I didn’t want to talk about it. Hubs came up behind me and said, “I’m sorry.” I said, “I knew it was coming, eventually.” He nodded. “But it doesn’t make it any easier.”
No, it doesn’t.
There used to be a baby gate on the door to my room because Spike was so absolutely blind that he’d end up wandering the house without it and get lost, so we’d have to find him and rescue him. I don’t have to step over that gate anymore, in fact, I put it by the trash can in the kitchen. It’s so strange not to have to step over that gate. Every time I walk in the room, I look down at the dog bed to see if Spike is okay, or randomly turn in my chair and glance down, to be sure Spike is okay because that had become what was normal, and a habit… but the bed is empty.
That black bottom showed me all too painfully that his blanket is gone and he’s not there anymore, so I folded a towel and put it in the bed to cover the glaring void. Throw the bed out? Can’t do it. Not yet.
I don’t know what else to say except that I loved that little dog, and the room is way too quiet.
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