By LiSean McElrath
Every morning around the time the birds start to chirp and the great big sun starts to shine, I would jump up in bed and yell to the top of my lungs just so I could wake her up.
The way she reacts varies.
Sometimes she gets up, nudges me off the bed and rolls back onto her stomach, and sometimes she looks me in the eyes, smiles, and lets me kiss her for what feels like years. This morning, she slowly sits up in bed, throws her hands to the sky, lets out a huge yawn, slouches over with her beautiful, curly, messy, bed hair wrapped around her face like vines around a tree, and just sits there. I move over towards her and use my nose to untangle her hair.
Once my nose touches her wet face, I suddenly feel disheartened. I can't remember ever seeing her face like that before this morning. It was as fiery as her hair and there were streams of water coming from her eyes and this made me upset because she was sad, and I didn't want her to be sad because I love her. So, I go crazy. I start yelling and bouncing around the bed and she tells me to shush. She wraps her arms around me and she holds me really, really tightly. She holds me tighter than she ever has before, then she kisses my forehead like she does when she tells me she loves me too.
Then, I look up, and I see her face isn't as red anymore. She cracks a smile, and I forget why I was bouncing around the bed in the first place.
I jump out of bed, and she trudges behind me as we make our way to the kitchen. You see, I love everything about her. I love the way she walks, the way she smiles, and the way she makes me food. Today she is going for the good stuff; bacon. As she places the luscious can of bacony goodness in my bowl, my mouth waters and my tongue sways back and forth like the large clock in the living room. Before i can even start chowing down, she runs her fingers through my hair and my tail starts wagging uncontrollably.
Now, I’m not usually this affected by her touch, but today, as her hands rushed through my fur, thoughts of our history together rush through my mind. I reminisce about the day where she first saw my puppy dog face through the small metal squares of my cage. I was at a puppy adoption home and everyone walked past my cage like I wasn't there. I would look down at my arms and see all the scars that covered them. I can't remember where I got them from, but maybe that's why no one wanted me. I was a damaged item, but she didn't care. She stepped in front of my cage, leaned down, looked me right in the eyes and cracked the biggest, brightest smile I had ever seen. When she stood up and pointed to my cage telling the woman with the clipboard that she wanted me, I spoke again. I spoke for the first time in who knows how long. My tail came back to life and it shook like a vibrant brown blur. I remember looking at her and thinking, “wow, she is beautiful,” and i remember looking at her and thinking, “wow, her arms look a lot like mine.”
She didn't move very fast when she first brought me home. On the way back to her third-floor apartment, she was great, loving, and happy, but, once she stepped into her apartment, she instantly changed. She would trudge around the house in baggy clothing and just stare at this picture next to her bed, but geez I am a dog with needs. There was no way I could just sit around the house all day. So, I jumped up into her bed and yelled, screamed, and bounced up and down, until she decided it was time to take me outside. That's how I got her to smile again for the first time since the shelter.
I remember playing catch with her in the park after she would serve food at the homeless center. She didn't always help out. One day, while we were making our way to the park, I got a whiff of an absolutely mind blowing delicacy: Bacon. I ran in there so fast, no one could stop me from knocking down all the tables and people in my way. She had to help pick up everything and clean up the mess, but, after that, she was hooked on helping people.
She went there everyday before we hit the park. Man, I love that red ball she throws to me. I love looking at this picture of her too. She is wearing this pretty red dress. I've never seen her wear it in person, but I always shout and wag my tail at the picture because she looks so happy. Her being happy makes me really happy. In the picture, there are so many different lights and colors in the background because she is standing on top of some building, and then I start thinking of lights.
I remember seeing really bright lights like that in person, and then I remember.
I remember being on this solid white bed and seeing a bunch of pretty colors.
I remember the doctor saying there wasn't much time left.
So, in the middle of me eating, I drop my ears, and I slowly walk towards her, laying down on the couch curled up in a ball. I just lay down with her. I think today is an okay day to just lay down. In the next couple of weeks, I just show her as much love as I can. It's harder to move around and yell, but I know she knows that I love her. I can see it in her eyes; right behind the sadness.
The day it finally happens, it felt so weird to see me just laying there, and it hurts so bad to see her crying. I yell and scream and run around her like the moon circling the Earth, but she can't hear me.So, I just stayed with her.
I was there with her every time she went to the homeless kitchen.
I was there with her every time she stopped to stare at the picture of the man beside her bed.
I was there with her every time she trudged through the house like a drunken turtle, and when she finally decided to go put on her beautiful red dress and head to the top of the building in the picture, I was relieved. T
he thing is that once she got to the top she couldn't stay happy. Her smile dropped and tears rushed down her face like a rainstorm, so I yell like crazy. I tell her, “I love you with all of my might. No matter how far I may seem, no matter how tough times get, I am going to always be right here with you. You need to pull it together. You need to be okay. You need to move on because the hurt in your soul gives me the pain of standing in front of thousands of firing squads. Do you understand? I will always love you.”
Then the wind picks up.
Almost instantaneously, the watering of her eyes fade. She looks up from her soaked palms and she says, “I’ll always love you.”