A Crack in the Heart

For some time now, Jenny has been on the decline.  She refuses her food more often and sometimes throws up.  She sleeps longer and deeper.  She is losing her sight and her hearing.  She gets diarrhea and has nocturnal accidents.  When she’s awake, she barks at everyone and everything invading her space.  Lately, she’s been limping.

Worried that her pancreatitis and kidney failure are worsening, I called Dr. Black who made a house call. She found that Jenny now weighs only 8.9 lbs (a loss of over a pound since her last visit}.  And her kidney blood levels are rising.

Remembering losses of other furry companions, and wanting time to prepare myself, I asked Dr. Black if Jenny was nearing the end of her illnesses.  I was stunned to learn that I probably have only about six more months to enjoy her company.

Funny, how the revelation I will soon lose my best friend changes my experience of her.  Now I live in the moment, holding her, stroking her, enjoying our closeness

Tonight, as the long day fades into night, I watch TV from my bed as Jenny lays her head on my lap and sleeps.  I gently stroke her back, letting her warmth soak into the mattress and my heart..

The Day After She Left

I roll my wheelchair through the rooms of the house, Jenny in step behind me.

In the living-room, the empty couch where she slept.  Around the fireplace, a string of lights she installed one Christmas.

Through the sun room window, the hummingbird feeder she planted and filled waits for a visitor.

In the kitchen, I open the refrigerator door and look for something for breakfast.  Past the potato salad, lasagna, and cucumber salad she made, I reach for the peanut butter, placing it and the last banana on a tray.  I make a cup of green tea, then take my breakfast back to the bedroom.

I settle in bed, adjusting the tray across my lap.  Jenny sits beside me.  Cleo, the cat, lies at my feet.  Watchful of my every move, both wait for a morsel they believe is their due.  The flowers she gave me arranged in a vase on the off-white French bureau add an uplifting feel to the room.

Outside, a cardinal eats seeds from the window feeder she sent last winter.  Now a squirrel arrives,  frightening the cardinal away.  Cleo runs to the window and furiously claws at the glass.   The squirrel, unruffled, continues his meal.

After breakfast, I return the tray to the kitchen, rolling through the rooms once more, traces of her in almost every quiet room.



“Heart Gifts”

That’s what Karen calls them.  All the things she gives.  All the things she does.  I’m overwhelmed with all the love.  Don’t know how to handle it.

Karen arrived Tuesday with burgers from my favorite restaurant, Taylor’s.  The best burgers in town from a restaurant my husband and I frequented when we dated over 70 years ago.  She also brought vegetables from her neighbor’s garden.

Since Karen arrived, she’s made macaroni and cheese, tomato soup, guacamole, and cucumber salad.  She bagged much of the food for the freezer to use later.  She wants to know what else I’d like her to make.

She thoroughly cleaned my kitchen, including the floor.

She sees problems and solves them, went out and bought a small doggie bed and a shower curtain liner to protect me and the bed from Jenny’s nocturnal incontinence.

She bought a pole and humming bird feeder and another hanging feeder because she knows I love to watch birds, especially humming birds.   She put the pole in the ground, made the sugar water and hung the feeder.

She did laundry.

She brought me a lovely summer bouquet.

Karen won’t listen to my protests.  “I can do this while we visit,”” she says.

Late evening we sit on the deck watching day fade into night, breathing the sweet humid air and listening to the birds calling to one another through the dark trees. This is Karen’s favorite time of day.  Mine too.

It isn’t like she doesn’t need a rest.  Back in Arizona, she works 12 hour shifts as a doctor in an emergency room.

Karen is a beautiful, compassionate soul who  cares about humans and animals alike. She gives of her whole self.  I love her with all my heart.