You always know it’s coming. But that doesn’t make it any easier. Yes, she’d been slowing down lately, showing her age, but that just meant she’d take short breaks while playing full-bore fetch for hours at a time. After all, she’s Lucy!
She’s the one who welcomed me back to America on sunny afternoons in the yard. She didn’t care that I owned a total of four shirts and had no idea what to do with myself. She was always there, a calm companion, smiles and play. I was just looking for a room where I could pause for a few months, but instead found a home with Manny and his two dogs, Sam and Lucy.
When I first moved in I didn’t know what I was doing and would put the dog gate across my door when I was trying to work. Lucy would come check on me, standing politely outside. I’d been there a month before I changed my mind, waving her in while I stood up to go move the gate. But she’d just been humoring me, and vaulted that fence from a standstill like it was nothing at all, landing gracefully and coming to say hello. Tail wag. Then turning and effortlessly hopping over my silly barricade again.
A couple times I came home to find garbage strewn across the kitchen floor, an impromptu indoor beach of coffee grounds. Sammy, the other hound of the house, would be grinning and wagging his tail but Lucy would be in the corner, ears down, refusing to meet my eye, shame in her every line despite the obvious truth that Sammy’d done all the mayhem (breaking the lock we’d put on the cabinet). Looking back and forth from his grin to her sweethearted penitence I would have the hardest time maintaining a stern facade.
And when I moved out of that house, bringing some floor coverings to my new apartment, I would find tumbleweeds of Lucy hair blowing around an apartment she’d never seen. I was sad when that stopped.
And the day I bought a new coat for a trip to Amsterdam with Lady L, we met Manny and Lucy for brunch and my dignified coat came away well-patterned with shepherd hair. But that’s what happens when you can’t resist getting down to hug the beast. Idly picking them off on Nieuwezijds Burgewaal made me smile as they drifted off among the tram tracks and bicycle tires.
A couple years ago I wrote a post about Lucy’s habit of coming in to say goodnight to me. She was still thriving at the time but understandably it sounded to some like an obituary, and I remember thinking “Nope, so glad it’s not that, yet.”
But now it is. It is that. It is time to say not goodnight, but goodbye.
I’m not good with loss. The invincibility of death still overwhelms me with the terror of permanence. It doesn’t seem real that something I care about it just…gone. Over. Not coming back. I feel that now for a dog I knew. A dog I miss.