It’s been years since my article, Heroes are Listed Alphabetically, was published. Fred and Jackie would follow me, on my bike, on the Montara trails. As I lay broken, in eleven places, Fred stood over me until help arrived. I think that will be my final memory.
I will also remember my wife sleeping next to him on the floor during his last five comatose days and the euthanasia performed by the woman chiding me for not calling sooner. My reaction was as quick as her apology. Jackie went five months later, and the man performing the service gave the sign of the cross. Time passed faster than our grief.
One day, as I listened to cars passing on Highway One and looking out my window at water, my door opened from a draft of wind. Fred did that in his old age by pushing the door with his paw and then lie at my feet. The shushing sounds had the pattern of Fred’s heavy breathing keeping me company during his last final days.
But analysis must prevail over grief. The door to my study opened from the draft of open windows. The sounds were made by the wind turbulence of passing cars, engine noise, and tires engaging the street.
We had to get another pup, and we named him Zeke. He is totally inconsiderate of our grief and whines because the toilet lids are down. He can push the door open with his paw and then run away. He farts in our car and prefers our bed to his. He loudly sings, demanding his meals.
During those demands, I think of Fred. I had to reanalyze that sound coming from the highway, because now it was gone. It’s bullshit to believe that a car racing so fast sounds like a dog or a door open from a draft. It was Fred who decided in death that he would not leave me alone.