Katie and I spent Halloween day wandering together under beautiful blue skies. The leaves here are finally turning, and in the early morning light they were spectacular. Walking under them, with my girl, watching the light shift and glow was special.
When Katie got sick last spring we hoped we could get her to fall, when the temperatures drop and she has, in the most recent years, transformed from a middle aged, lethargic dog of summer into a youngster who throughly enjoys her walks.
Somehow, in the fall, she turns back time and prances during her walks in the woods and around the neighborhood. But this year, the year we needed those cooler temperatures to hurry up so she could enjoy them, October held on to summer with an iron grip.
I enjoyed those warm days with temperatures in the 70s, but worried that Katie and I wouldn’t get our cool walks in the woods. So on the last day of October, with early morning temperatures dropping and as the sun began to creep up into the sky, Katie and I headed out in search of adventure.
We stopped first in Milford, a town that always dresses the storefronts for fall, complete with a giant pumpkin in front of a fancy restaurant. For the past few years I’ve taken Katie there for a photo shoot.
This year we were disappointed, as the entire town is dug up with some sort of construction project, and the giant pumpkin was less than giant. Still, we walked around town for a little bit. Like the princess she is, she insisted on doing some window shopping, checking out every single shop doorway. That made me smile.
So I took a window shot of the two of us.
But we didnt stay in town long, we headed out to my favorite park, and to her favorite walk in that park. The color as the sun rose was spectacular.
And walking there, on a service road through the trees with my girl, I contemplated the shortness of life. Though her numbers were better at the last vet visit, Katie is still near the end of her life.
She’s a happy girl, and good at hiding her discomfort. She still likes to go on adventures, she still loves her suppers. She still loves us. But sometime, maybe sooner then later, we’re going to have to make that hard decision.
And it’s not just her. I’ve been dog sitting for a neighbor whose husband had a combination of cancer and heart disease. He’s been in the hospital for the last few weeks, and this week, when she thought he was coming home, he died.
He was a very nice man, loved his garden, his wife, his dogs. I’d talk to him when I was out walking Katie. He’d always tell me what he was planning for next year’s garden, “if I’m still here,” he’d say. Now his flowers are still blooming in our long, extended fall, but he isn’t here.
I dog sat for his two pups while his wife and family attended his funeral. I would have gone myself, but my time was better spent taking care of the two little dogs who have lost their man.
And another friend just had surgery, leaving her two cats at home for the duration. She had someone to come in and take care of them, but I stopped by to play with them too. They always came running for a tummy rub, or a romp through a tunnel. I enjoyed spending time with them, but they’re so much happier now that their person is back home.
And there’s my own family member who has spent the last two weeks in the hospital and had major surgery too. She has a long road ahead of her, and though she has no pets for me to take care of, she’ll still need some visits and perhaps help with some household chores.
It has seemed like trouble and tragedy is everywhere. But it’s easier to bear while walking through a beautiful woods with my girl. And someday, hopefully far in the future, when I don’t have my girl walking next to me, well, I’ll have the memories, and the pictures. And that will have to do.
I’m grateful that I have had so many years with her. I’m grateful I knew my neighbor and his gardens. I’m grateful to the friend with the cats, and the long life of my relative now recuperating at home.
But sometimes…sometimes it feels like time has flown, and life is short, and there’s just no way to slow it all down.