Kasey died unexpectedly this week, on a terrible Tuesday. I was at work, 30 minutes away, and there was no way to get home fast enough to say goodbye; he was gone 10 minutes after letting out a pained yelping whimper. I rushed home anyway to be beside my husband who was coping with the sudden shock of losing a pet in the midst of the chaos of caring for a parent with dementia. Kasey was lying so still in the living room, at peace but clearly no longer present. I stroked his fur and massaged his paws and ears. We struggled through the indignity of hefting him, in a sheet, out to the car, laying him gently in the back of the SUV. I made my way to the vet clinic; it was a brutally hot day but before I signed the papers and set the efficient wheels in motion for cremation, I lingered at the back of the truck as long as I could, whispering my thanks and love to this very good boy who shared 12 wonderful years with us. As I stroked his ears and paws I could already feel the coolness of a body in death. I pulled myself away, signed some forms and watched the techs gently place him on a guerney and wheel him away. He was a very good boy, and he shall not be forgotten.
As evening falls on a day with blue sky and cool breezes, I’m reminded of the western NY summers of my childhood, when the setting of the sun called for sweaters and the temperatures were perfect for bonfires. Tonight there’s a chance of a major meteor shower, and just as my sister and I used to do with my dad on clear cool summer nights, I’m going to drag a lounge chair out in the yard, to watch for shooting stars and make a wish for an entire summer of cool nights.
The other night at band rehearsal, the lyrics of a song reminded me and my band mates (my sister and a childhood friend) of the paper dolls we used to make as children. Some prowling around in a box of memorabilia in my basement unearthed a battered tin Sucrets box. Remember Sucrets– those powerful little beige lozenges that would make our eyes water and our tongues numb? Inside the box was the paper doll baby, about the size of a quarter, that I made about 40 years ago, complete with a tiny baby wardrobe. Some little moment of my childhood self is captured in those teeny scraps of paper, which is why, after all these years, I’ve never been able to bring myself to toss them.