Friday, April 13, 2018

Old Boys, Old Women, and Reasons

Henrietta had an old dog. He was a golden, and he walked slowly but followed her everywhere. He suffered from a medical condition that caused him to be in a lot of pain especially when he was touched, and the doctors told her he wouldn't live long, but he did. He lived a great long life, and Henrietta was happy. This was before I meet her.

She's an older woman now, with medical problems of her own, but still she holds on to him, she still takes him with her everywhere sure goes, and they walk slowly together.

When they told me of his condition, I looked at him, I laid down next to him,  I held him, and Henriette held his leash awkwardly.

"We need to get outside," I told her, and picked him up gingerly.

"What are you doing? You're causing him pain. Put him down!" she said to me.

"He's always in pain. We need to go outside, right now," I commanded, and she led me out the quickest way.

I knelt in the grass. "You need to hold him."

"I can't. My hands..."

"I will take the weight, but you need to hold him, like you did, all those years ago when you first adopted him."

She shifted into position, so that he was between us, she was on one side, and I on the other. I could feel a great tension seep out of him.

"Now tell him you're ready."

"I'm ready."

"Not me, tell him. Tell him like you've always told him things, but tell him."

She pulled us down to the grass, and laid beside him, not too much longer herself, and leaned into him. She hugged him, and though I heard the words, I will not share them, because they don't matter, only the meaning behind them.

He let out a great sigh, and leaned against her as gently as she leaned against him, and closed his eyes.

We laid there a long time, even after his body grew cold.

"He was ready. He'd been ready for many years. But he held on, because you weren't ready. He'd been living in all that pain, but also in all that love, for you. All you had to do was tell him you were ready."

"Is he happy?"

"Before the end, yes, he was happy. He got to hold you again, remember the puppy he once was, and he went in his sleep dreaming of running. Running through the grass and the trees, chasing the birds, free of pain. And now, he's free."

She had tears in her eyes, and so did I. Henrietta say up slowly, wiping her face, and leaned over him, still between us, still against us, and hugged me. "Thank you."

The part of Henrietta was played by Linda Hunt.