Coming To Empty
It’s purpling time, the sun low above mountain ridges. My hand trembles with the front door key: for the first time in 19 years, silence awaits on the other side. My dog lay limp on linoleum at the vet’s, her feathered tail curled as it did in pain, amber eyes wide, marbles glinting back the ceiling lights, fear and surprise at how rapidly she died.
I asked forgiveness as I stroked her fur, forgiveness for not letting go the month before, when she limped and fell and wheezed through midnight hours on the wooden floor. I held my Mica, cupped her head and praised her strength, her will, her loyalty, hanging on, holding on, though her body whimpered resignation.
I asked my Mica for forgiveness, swaddled her in the quilt she loved, carried her belated to my van like precious luggage. She panted on the floor, swollen tumors pressing, rippling up and down her back like stony paths. I asked my Mica for forgiveness as I knelt to hold her head while the needle pierced her hip.
At home, the stillness stabs. I gather Mica’s things: her leash, and hang it on the closet hook, not ready yet to let it go. The pink child’s brush with plastic tips I used to stroke her shoulders till her lids drooped shut. The heart-shaped ID tag she wore like a charm since just a pup. Her blue and white ceramic bowl on a rubber placemat by the sink. Just inside the kitchen door, a plastic bin filled to the brim with kibbles and organic treats for “senior vim and vigor.” Mica’s things.
I weep for Mica as I weep for me. We hang on to things like we hang on to life: afraid to see the end of purpose, afraid to phase out shards and broken bits, afraid to see how giving up is also love.