Adam has been away for work, I have an awful cold, and Howard has chronic diarrhea. I'm rather fragile, or Estoy muy sensible, as a character in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown memorably (to me) said. The diarrhea is indicative of a much larger problem, and I'll spare you the details, other than that our lovely veterinarian has run out of options. Two days ago, she wondered whether we should try another ultrasound, in case there's cancer that was missed the first time. We asked what the point would be: What could we reasonably do if there was?
"There is nothing we can really do," she said.
I took myself to dinner tonight—no one else is going to—and for whatever reason, while sitting at the bar of I Sodi, a restaurant I think of as a treat, I lost it. I started crying, not enough to have to excuse myself, but close. The people near me at the bar, where I had the misfortune of being at the crook of the L, would've been hard pressed to miss it. I started to worry they would ask me what was wrong, because I would've told them.
Howard is a dog. He doesn't know, and even if he did, he might not care. But I can't convince myself that's better. I've always thought of dramatic irony as cheap—those poor people on the Titanic, they don't have a clue what's going to happen—and yet in real life, it's extremely powerful.
"Is he in pain?" asked my friend Tracy. I texted her for her birthday, and when she replied, I told her about my dying dog.
"I don't know," I replied, which might be the worst part of all.
I used to work with other people, and I wasn't half bad at it, but for the past eight years, my main companion has been my pug, sitting in my lap. We spend all day, every day, together. I can describe every inch of his body in my mind; if I close my eyes, I can feel it. The sense of responsibility for another creature has been overwhelming. It's possible that I never really re-entered the workforce because it was better for Howard if I stayed at home. I know how that sounds. How do people with children manage?
I cried in the cab home. I cried when I walked in the door, even though I told myself to pull it together so as not to upset him. (I know.) I cried when I told him I was sorry for forgetting to give him a treat when I left. I'm crying now, as I write this, and in two minutes, when Sufjan Stevens's "A Little Lost" comes on, I'm really going to be a mess. None of this has come as a surprise, and it's much preferable than not outliving your pet, but there it is. Here it is.