It is bitterly cold outside today, just like it was two years ago on this day, when Frankie died. I remember so clearly working my way across town, on the bus, through the cold and the snow, to the hospice on Second Avenue. I remember the kindness and patience of the staff there - how Frankie would weave in and out of consciousness; doing a dance with one foot in this world and one foot in another. She'd hold my hand and smile, then in an instant, all recognition would leave her face.
I also remember the expanse of the white and grey sky outside her window, the view of snow-covered rooftops during the storms we had that year, and the sound of the cold wind as it whipped past the windows.
It was an arduous struggle to get Frankie into that hospice, but once there, she was cared for and safe, and she passed peacefully.
This year, I'm tending to Zeke. His pathology report has come back suggestive of lymphoma. There can only be a conclusive diagnosis with a biopsy, but I won't put him through that. Even if it is conclusive, I won't choose to give him the treatment. His walking is difficult, his breathing is audible in a way that it's never been before, and he's hardly eating (he wouldn't even eat a burger I cooked for him the other day). I've gotten some wet food that is pretty stinky and has a pâté consistency, and he'll eat some of that, but he hasn't eaten any dry food (kibble) for about a week.
A number of years ago, when Frankie was going through treatment for her ovarian cancer, she stayed with me for a few nights. Zeke snuggled up next to her in the bed, and the two of them slept together for the time she stayed with me. She loved him, claimed that he was more healing than any treatment a doctor could prescribe, and called him "Sweetie-Petey."
This morning, I started Zeke on Prednizone. Hopefully, this will reduce the swelling of his lymph nodes, act as an anti-inflammatory for his arthritis, and increase his appetite.
Zeke and I were introduced to each other eleven years ago, in a pound, in Hyde Park, New York. Though still a young dog at the time, he was fully grown; maybe a year, maybe older. Since then, he's had a very fortunate dog's life, some might even say spoiled; fed home-made food, slept on comfortable beds, walked at least three times a day, and gotten more love and better treatment than most humans. Even with all that, it's hardly payment enough for what he's given me in return. I know that Zeke may not be here for very much longer, but for whatever time he has left, it's my job to make him as comfortable as I can.