July 28: My beloved Aly passed away in my arms…As he parked the vehicle outside of the Emergency Veterinarian Office, she took her last breath. Her scared eyes looked into mine and she knew that I loved her. She knew that she was in my arms and whatever happened next, wherever she was going, whatever she felt… Aly knew that she was safe in my arms. So, she looked into my eyes and I let her go.
Tyler had disappeared through the glass doors to retrieve a vet assistant even though he had heard me whisper, “She’s gone, Tyler” before he left. I was covered in puke and the smell was awful – so I opened the car door. The brunette woman walked slowly towards me and my beloved pet as I lowered her body to the pavement.
I had wrapped Aly in my bed-sheets when I took her into my arms and called for Tyler to hurry and find his keys. When he realized what was happening, he became frantic and he had not yet regained control of his emotions.
I allowed this woman that I did not know to press her stethoscope against my best friend’s chest. I knew the words that were coming. I had already said them. I did not need her to tell me that my sweet Aly-girl was gone, but she did anyway.
“I’m sorry. She’s gone,” she said.
I nodded and replied, “I know.” I ran my fingers down her forehead and across her nose. I scratched her ears like I always had. I looked at her limp body and felt it growing cold against my skin. My sweet girl. I finally looked up to find Tyler. I saw him in the distance, sitting on a curb. He was shaking with every sob. I wondered why I had not cried yet. When would the tears start flowing? I called for him, “Tyler, can we go home?” and he stood slowly and made his way back to us; his two girls.
I said that I wondered when the tears would come. Well, I have never cried so much in my life. We buried her with my teddy bear… her teddy bear. I took the turquoise collar from her neck before we lowered her into the grave that Tyler dug. There are no leash laws in heaven, I smiled … and told her goodbye.
I cried for hours. I could not stop. For an entire week I cried every second I was alone. I would wake up to the sounds of her retching, though she was not there. I dreamed that some evil person ripped her out of the grave. I woke up that night screaming to the image of her covered in brown earth at the foot of my bed. I could not walk through my front door without bursting into cascades because she was not there to greet me. I could not get into my car without salty droplets rolling down my cheeks because I was never strong enough to make her stay at home. I could not sleep. I barely ate. I cannot remember showering. But I cried. Yes, the tears finally came and they did not stop.
So begun August.
It’s October now. Its been sixty-eight days since I promised her that “everything would be okay”. And even though I’m still not, I know she is.
“I wonder…is love innate?” I asked myself as I watched Halah sleep.
She lay curled up in the suede chair pushed into the far corner of my room. I could hear her snoring and occasionally she whimpered within her dreams. Her beautiful blue hair glistened under the beams of light falling through the mid-afternoon blinds. There was no question about her; Halah was born knowing how to love devotedly. Yes, I had to teach her many things. Potty training, fetch, high five and sit… but I never taught her how to love me with those yellow gray eyes or lick the tears from my cheeks until I smiled. She knew more about the matter of love than I could have ever tried to teach the girl.
I had previously concluded that people were born without the slightest idea what love was. How could we know love, and understand it but be so evil, vicious and cruel. It was not possible. We come out screaming and crying, wet and ugly… not a moment to spare for our poor mother’s labor. Straight to the tit we go as hungry selfish unloving babes. That’s certainly not love, and if we were born with love already inside us then how can people live their whole lives and never know what it is. So, today I’ve been thinking about it again. A part of me wants to believe that love is within us from the very moment our existence was formed. The other half of me knows that is far too kind and more than overtly hopeful in the least. I have this idea though.
Maybe we are born with love. Maybe we are actually good and there is this bright light within us from the very beginning. But maybe…before crying babes open their newborn eyes, before anyone can ever see the light, before this sparkle has a chance to shine for another, before we even know what it is… it goes out. Love is too valuable of a thing to just give away, right? It is. No one drops love at a stranger’s feet, like pennies sliding unnoticed from a soft hand’s grip. No one just gives love away. It can only be because we had to fight so very hard to find it in the first place.
I mean, it all makes perfect sense. We live to learn to love. We live to smile and spread joy, warmth, and meaning throughout the world and those that surround us. We were made to share what we have and know. Nothing could be truer, and it has been said many times but- all we need is love. No one needs anything that they are not in themselves already or have not ever experienced. So we’re born with love. We never actually lost it, we just had to find it first. If it weren’t for love and the journey it provides each of us, I can make a bet that life would not be as long nor worthwhile. So today I believe the best in humankind. Love exists within us all, you just have to find it for yourself and then you will know.
“Hey little booger,” I smiled at Halah’s outstretched arms as she yawned, awakened from her nap. “You wanna go outside and play in the sun? It’ll be cold before you know it, Halz…”
She looked at me with understanding but decided not to move in acknowledgment. She didn’t fool me though. I stood from the bed and felt my knees ache as they straightened to hold the weight of my body. Right as my hand touched the light blue pack of Marlboro Smooths on my nightstand I heard her collar jingle. She leapt from the chair and bounded in my direction. She wasn’t being left behind. Halah was always predictable, yet never dull. She slid past my legs as I opened my bedroom door and pranced through the kitchen towards the backyard. But she turned and made her way back to my feet before running through the cracked white door.
I really need to see about having that fixed. During the extreme months of heat in August and September the door lacked the proper weather stripping. Our electricity bill was high and nasty bugs were finding their way through the crack inside our home. But now, after our ever so delightful handyman (who I might add is potentially mentally impaired and arguably high on marijuana every time I have seen him) found it in his schedule to be handy and fix the door…well, now the blasted thing wont even stay shut. For Christ’s sake… I would have preferred the crack over waking up to an open invitation for heat, critters and creepers (the human kind). But some things just aren’t worth worrying over I decided. So I lit my cigarette and let the smoke drift through the open door and inside.
I should really see about getting that fixed.
Halah smiled up at me, mouth full of her pink and black tennis ball. I ripped it from her bite and flung it high into the air and across the yard. It was time for some fetch.