Seven years is a very long time to spend with The Departed, but not nearly long enough to spend with The Dog.
The night before The Dog’s death, The Child stays up very late, baking red velvet cake from a mix, and then cleaning the kitchen to a near-pristine state. She sleeps on the sofa so that she can be near him, but sleeps so soundly that when he collapses on the kitchen floor, she doesn’t hear him fall and thrash on the floor, struggling but unable to get up until I hear him and come downstairs to help. Eventually, he goes to sleep on the carpet, and I sit next to him and watch him. When the vet comes, we cry, missing him before he is gone, but then in a moment, he is gone, and we are overwhelmed with peaceful sadness.
The vet leaves after a brief discussion of cremation arrangements.
The Child says, we should scatter his ashes in the college. We used to explore there, and he liked it there.
Maybe we could scatter his ashes in the ocean at Cannon Beach, I suggest. He loved exploring the beach.
We remember the first time we took him to Cannon Beach: He saw the rented minivan in the driveway and claimed his seat before we had finished packing. We had planned to take him, of course, but he just wanted to be sure. He loved walking on the beach as much as we did, but not quite as long, and simply stopped and laid down in the sand when he’d had too much, not defiant, but joyfully tired – happy to be there, and to be with us, but too exhausted to go any further.
I find pictures of him on the beach, and The Child finds her favorite picture: Him sleeping on the sofa when he thought no one was home. He slept peacefully there, but other times he barked and ran in his sleep, and we always wondered why: It was not a joyful bark, and it was definitely a fearful run.
The memories exhaust me, and I stare at the tv, or read the news, or scroll through Facebook, not liking anything, just scrolling. The Child spends some time watching tv with me, munching on the cake she made the night before. After a while, she gets up, and takes up all the mats from the floor, the ones put there in an effort to help the The Dog not to slip on the wood. She vacuums the floor, and then the carpet, and then washes the floor. In the evening, I hear her doing laundry, and cleaning the laundry room: rearranging the cat dishes and moving the dog dish to the garage. She makes a neat pile of all the towels and blankets we’ve saved for dog use, and announces we will take it to The Humane Society, along with the Costco bag of dog food that I bought for him last week.