#71 Times Square Can't Shine as Bright as You
About 30 posts ago I wrote an ode to my dog, Delilah. You could READ IT HERE if you want. I'm glad I wrote it then because I'm struggling to write something new now.
Now that she's gone.
Look at this angel.
If you've ever had a pet, you know how it went. Delilah was fine until she wasn't. I had a few days of "is this it? Is this the time?" before the moment when I knew, with absolute certainty, that it was time.
On Tuesday, I was working the polls for election day when I got the she-really-doesn't-look-good call from Delilah's dog sitter and trusted lieutenant, Alan. He and Delilah have been in cahoots for almost 15 years. While I was traveling the globe for work, they were planning stealth binge operations involving rotisserie chicken and episodes of The Black List. He knows her better than almost anybody so I knew it was serious.
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, I wasn't allowed inside the vet so I handed Delilah, wrapped in towels to shield her from the election day winds, over to a vet tech at the door. I worried that the news would be grim, that I'd have to make the decision to let her go while standing on a crowded street in Park Slope listening to strangers talk about how many electoral votes Arizona is worth.*
Delilah would not have approved this photo.
But with some fluids and a little medicine, Delilah rallied a bit and the doctor said I could take her home. I hand-fed her while we watched CNN, lulled into a trance by that guy with the huge electoral map on a touch screen. "See, if we turn Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona blue...."
As Wednesday rolled around, there were a few hours where it seemed like Delilah was turning a corner. She started eating on her own and tottering around the place, making her rounds like a cop on the beat. I opened up FaceBook and a memory appeared in my feed: a video from 2 years earlier with the caption "All of #delilah's feelings in one video #relax #panic #repeat." I was stunned at the difference between the dog in this video and the one sitting next to me. Two years ago I thought she wouldn't last through the summer, but now I could see that earlier version of Delilah looked like the picture of health.
(Also please note CLOWN painting in the background. This may have contributed to Delilah's mood.)
That's when I knew. I'd been setting the bar lower and lower for Delilah but at what point is that bar just for me?
The vet called later with more bad news: Delilah's kidneys were failing. So, we made the appointment for the next day and spent the rest of the evening eating rotisserie chicken and watching a tv show about complicated heists (our favorite!).
It feels really weird to say this, but saying goodbye to Delilah is right up there with losing my parents. She's the one living thing that I've had complete responsibility for and I'm the one living thing that she had responsibility for. We both took that job very seriously. We nursed each other through broken bones and broken hearts. When the world felt overwhelming, we huddled together and waited it out. And when the sun came up, we got each other out of bed.
My niece, Paige, met us at the vet and held me up through the whole experience. It was a beautiful day in Brooklyn, so after it was over we went home and made margaritas. Within a few minutes of sitting down outside, I looked down and saw that a ladybug had landed on my hand. Are there ladybugs in Brooklyn? Have they always been here?
I never miss a chance to make a mundane thing mean something important and cosmic, so we googled "does seeing a ladybug mean the spirit of my dearly departed dog is still with me?"** And the internet never disappoints: "Seeing a ladybug in a moment of sorrow or struggle in your life is a good sign. It means that those you've lost are looking after you even in their death."
Delilah looked after me for seventeen years*** and even now I feel her in the room like a phantom limb. I'm completely heartbroken. But I've got a lot of people here taking care of me and a literal zoo of celestial beings watching over me.
Sorry for the costumes. I see now that it was wrong. But, you did look so cute!
So I'm going to be all right.
*IT'S ELEVEN. HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW THIS????
**I'm paraphrasing here, but come on that's what I wanted to know!
***I literally just realized yesterday that she was 17. All this time I thought she was 16. This dog is a miracle and should be studied in veterinary school textbooks.