Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Kiss

Years ago, my little dog, BJ, developed cataracts. I had them operated on, and for several years her vision was restored, but gradually scarring from the surgery made her blind again. And, as she approached her fifteenth birthday, her health declined. Between the blindness and her health, she wasn't able to make her way into the back yard to do her business, so I had to carry her out front and stand with her while she wandered around a little, picked up a few scents, found a spot, and did her thing. I took her outside every morning, at noon if I came home from work, after work, and before we went to bed. But sometimes BJ would have to go in the middle of the night: She would cry quietly from her kennel, and I would get up and pick her up and carry her outside.

I'm afraid I'm not a patient person, and people who know me might have expected me to be angry or resentful when my sleep was interrupted. But, strangely, I wasn't. I gently picked her up and cradled her to my chest and carried her outside. We stood together in the dark, fending off mosquitoes, until she squatted and stood again and it was okay to carry her inside and just as gently return her to her kennel.

One night, a year ago tonight, as I was carrying BJ down the dark hall about two in the morning, she tilted her head up and gave my a lick -- a kiss -- on the bottom of my chin. As if to say, "I appreciate your doing this for me." It was precious to me, at that moment. It made every time I carried her down that hall in the dark worth it. At that moment.

The very next morning -- a year ago tomorrow -- BJ didn't seem well. By lunch time she seemed to be in distress. I took her to the vet, and she was admitted to their hospital. That night -- just twenty-four hours after giving me The Kiss -- BJ died.

Now The Kiss haunts me. Was she thanking me? Was she saying she loved me? Was she saying goodby? Or... was she asking for my help. Could I have saved her if I had brought her to the vet that morning, instead of waiting until lunch time? Did she give me The Kiss and then did I let her down. Let her hang her head back down and die.

I loved BJ. Those of you who don't have dogs will be shaking your heads and wondering why you ever read this post -- yeah, you wasted a few minutes of your life. Find another blog. Bye. BJ and I had spent all of her life and a third of mine together. I miss her terribly. But I can't shake off The Kiss.

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she was thanking you, she was saying she loved you and she was saying, "it's time." you didn't let her down, though i think she'd be sad if she knew that you thought that you did.

besides, dogs would never think that their beloved human let them down, it's just not how they are.

rest easy.
When you lose a love like that, it's heart-wrenching. We know that loss all too well.

But, I think you have no option but to take a moment like The Kiss as a beautiful gift. Cherish it always, along with those memories.

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