October 6, 2018,
as calculated by our sun and the turning of our globe and the arrival of the King on this planet. Three years and two months since Laura, the littlest cousin, left us and gave me her gentleman collie.
There was Finn
lying on a soft blanket on the floor. I sat beside him, stroking and stroking the golden fur on his back, and the white tangles on his neck. His legs could no longer hold him, and they stuck awkwardly out from him at the wrong angles. He never made a noise, never looked at me with a question.
First He drowsed, looking around him without noticing much, panting lightly.
Then he slept, deeply and more deeply, and more deeply still.
He twitched, and took a breath,
and then none.
And then a deeper one.
The air had changed. It was thicker, sweeter, and held honey and light and some kind of music that filled every cell in his lungs. He took another deep gasp and tasted it.
It was the place he could run to.
He could feel it between his teeth.
Finn had given up on expecting his legs to carry him, but he rose, and stretched a long, glorious, unhurried stretch, with his front bowing and his rump high in the air, strength on strength flaming out through his veins,
and with the sudden energy of a puppy out of a bath
Finn began to shake.
He shook off the stiffness in his joints. He shook off pain forever and ever until he already couldn’t remember what pain was.
He shook off the matted, filthy places in his fur, and shed the loosened furry tufts and tangles and the smell of old sick dog and the confusion of dimmed sight and the frustration of falling and not pushing himself up on weakened legs. He shook off the shame of dirtied rugs and dribbled fur, shook off the strange smell of linoleum and cleaning chemicals and medicines that hovered around him,
and Finn leaped up and the bright light that filled him was like wind in his bones.
I was still stroking him, thinking he probably couldn’t feel it any more. I couldn’t feel with my fingers that his fur had smoothed and become silky and the wounds he had dragged on to his rough old paws were healing soft and clean. My nose couldn’t smell the clean puppy smell that now floated around him. I stared at his long elegant nose, and I couldn’t see with my eyes that he was laying his chin on my shoulder and giving my ear a lick before taking off.
I couldn’t hear it with my ears, but Laura, his heart’s mistress, Laura was calling him, and her laughter was his real name, and he started to climb. His first steps were tentative, and he still didn’t expect momentum from his shriveled and worn hind feet, but it was there, pushing him up, pushing him higher as his feet dug into the air, the solid air; past the silver table, past the ceiling and its glaring fluorescent lights, past the insulation and beams and roof tiles and chimney and out into the warm October sky. But it wasn’t October anymore, it was finally now, now forever, and the smell of just turning leaves turned into the smell of liquid sunshine and Finn heaved great breaths of it into his lungs, galloping along higher and higher and brighter and brighter. He could have chased a squirrel, they were there, and he felt better than his old self had ever felt. But the squirrels were there, running next to him, in front of him, behind him, and riding on his back, leaping and chattering and singing and Finn realized that he was singing too. He had to.
At first it was his gulping, old-dog cry, afraid in the night, but that turned to a deep bark of joy, again and again, louder as he realized his power, and then his bark stretched out like his limbering limbs and became a Song and
there was Laura.