We lost my childhood golden retriever this week. He was almost fourteen years old, a very long and full life for that breed. I say lost, but my parents had to make the decision to put him to sleep. He had a large tumor and was in pain and very sick towards the end, not the dog we remembered and loved at all. Making the decision seemed far more difficult than just letting him go. I think we all hoped he would just pass in his sleep.
Their house is quiet now. No nails scratching on the wood floors, no doggy gruffs and barks. But I think what we are mourning even more than Lucky himself is the passing of time. We are reminded in an instant how quickly 14 years can pass. He spent 5 years living near the beach in Indiana, 5 years in an apartment near a lake in Florida and 4 years at their house with the nice fenced in backyard. When you subdivide time like that, it makes it go by even more quickly.
It’s been almost 4 years now since I moved to Florida, and got married. And even though I have my own house with my own dog, I am crying over the good times. The years spent in Long Beach with Lucky, just five short ones, when I was a teenager and took him for walks everyday. I needed that dog, we all did. I am mourning the memories, and at the same time wondering, where are my memories of Florida? Is it because there are no seasons, no markers in the passage of time? So many of my great memories from growing up involve the seasons. Or perhaps it’s because I am only just starting my own family. Maybe all those memories were really about the four of us, my parents, brother and I, and of course, Lucky. In many ways his death ranks right up there with my grandfather’s in terms of importance.
I think we are all grieving and scared. Scared that in many ways this is just the start of deaths to come. We are all aging in a way that is much more noticeable now. And in the middle of it all is Charley, so young and oblivious, wondering, “Are you otay mama?”