Early yesterday morning, we drove up the Garden State Parkway, our feet still full of sand, tired from our annual beach trip with Rob’s parents and his sister’s family. We had taken a short break from a riveting game of 20 questions when Rob’s cell phone rang. He was glad to see that it was the kennel calling as we had been playing phone tag with them for the past day trying to arrange Jenny’s pick up time.
I zoned out as I listened to Rob telling the kennel that he rarely brings the phone with him to the beach, sorry for missing your calls but can we come get Jenny after lunch. There was a pause that I paid no attention to until Rob shouted, “Jenny died!”
I was driving 80 miles an hour in the express lane without an exit in sight. I cried and cried trying to make sense of what happened, trying to hold the girls hands as they sat dazed in the back seat. Katherine cried with me, Caroline begged for me to get off the highway, sensing wisely that I shouldn’t be driving. Finally a few miles later, we were able to pull off and hug each other and cry and listen and beg for understanding.
For all the deaths I’ve experienced, including that of my father, none have been sudden or shocking and this was wholy both.
Our sweet dog, while nine years old, was always mistaken for a puppy. Only those of us who lived with her could tell that she was beginning to slow down, just a bit. She bounded with energy and love. She drooled, she romped, she got fur all over our favorite chair and dirt all over our favorite duvet. But more than anything else she loved and was loved.
Friday night, at the kennel, within an hour, she died of bloat. And just like that she was gone.
Rob and I saw her at the animal hospital when we got home to say goodbye but it wasn’t right. It wasn’t what I had pictured. She wasn’t the old and tired dog I imagined saying our goodbyes to years from now.
She was still the bounding, loving puppy that now, she will always be.
Good bye sweet Jenny. Good bye.