It’s a funny thing.
This weekend a good friend and I took a road trip that we’d been talking about “forever”. On the way, we stopped in Ames and took a stroll around the Iowa State campus and I felt like “it was just yesterday” that I’d been a student there. We were only gone for two nights, but when I got home, Nathan was saying new words and shrugging and flailing his arms as though he’d suddenly discovered some Italian heritage I wasn’t aware he had. How could I miss so much in just two days?
All this thinking about time was inspired by something much sadder, I’m afraid. We found out this week that Penelope has something terrible going on with her liver. The most likely culprit is cancer, though she has been retaining so much fluid in her abdomen that they are not able to do a biopsy right now. The vet is pretty sure that it is cancer and he let us know that 4-6 weeks is about as much time as we could expect before she is really uncomfortable and sick. That’s just not enough time.
Penelope just turned 7 on October 15th. Two weeks ago. Seven. In two weeks Mike and I will have been married for 7 years. Yup, that’s right, we got married one month after the dog was born and then one month after we were married, Penelope came home to live with us. For five of those years she was pretty much the center of our little HarrisWorld. Sure, we were fairly strict with her about coming when called and sitting and staying as directed and without question, but beyond that, she was one spoiled mastiff. Who needs a garbage disposal when you have a 120-lb dog? Have a cold bed and a husband working late? I had a 120-lb dog ready snuggling under the covers with me (yes, under. sheets get washed far more often than comforters and mastiff slobber dries black). Who only gets one third of the couch? Me. Penelope always takes up more than her half while we are cozied up on the couch watching television.
I know that mastiffs don’t live for very long, but I really thought that Penelope would be around long enough for Nathan to remember her. She’s been smaller than average and healthy, so I assumed that she would live longer than average. Seven is not better than average. Not at all. This was out of nowhere and I am not ready. I don’t know what to do or how to do it. I guess we continue to spoil her as much as possible for as long as possible (tonight Nathan and I fed her leftovers from the table) and do whatever we can to keep her from being unhappy and in pain. Beyond that, I imagine I will spend a lot of time being sad and wailing about the unfairness of it all.
Today as I got off the bus, a neighbor asked, “How long now?” and it took me a minute to realize that she was talking about Baby Boy Harris #2 and when he would be arriving. “Not until February. Not for forever.” Time is a funny thing.