End of a Stage

"Maggie had puppies!"

I'm not sure I'll ever forget that day completely--it's my earliest memory, after all, and my memories are important to me. Even now I can see the way the blue-grey sky loomed over me, majestic and serene, as I went out with my mother to go see our black lab Maggie's puppies. I was 4 years old. 

I could only glance at those puppies, which were a lab/chow mix due to the father being our neighbor's dog, but a few weeks later I got to pick one out. I chose a beautiful black, shiny, fluffy, big and shy puppy. She was scared of the other puppies even though they were her brothers and sisters... her friends... she reminded me so much of myself. 

I named her "Jill" after much debate and loved her to death. I still remember when we'd sit on the proch in the sun, and I would just pet her and talk to her. I would talk to her just like a person as she lay there with her eyes closed...Thinking back I'm not sure if she even heard me, but those times were wonderful for us both, that much I'm certain of. I remember staying with her when my brother was target practicing, because she was scared of guns. I remember when I fell and scraped my knee, and she came up and started licking the wound gingerly and glancing at me worriedly as if to say, "Are you all right? It's okay! Don't cry!"

She was my dog. Simply put, she was my dog. Not the family's dog, but mine. She would let me brush her (gently!), she would let me do things others couldn't, and it was the same for when it came to me letting her get away with things! I'd give her the extra treat! Haha... 

I don't know when it was that having her greet me was normal, that seeing her growing old was normal... I just know that she was always there...That's all I ever noticed.

When Jill and I had spent nearly ten years together, I was 13 and it was a few days before Thanksgiving. Jill... she... she wasn't doing so well. Daddy said, "I think this is her last winter, her old bones are giving out," and things like that, and I agreed half-heartedly. I never really realized Jill was actually coming to the end of the road... but one day, Jill seemed sick and in pain.

It was after I'd gotten home from school, and I was going inside, and Jill was laying down very still and whimpering. Frowning in concern I knelt and petted her gently, giving her my usual greeting, "Hey baby girl, how ya doin'?" I comforted her best I could, "It'll be alright, baby girl, it'll be alright..." I sang the song, "Jilly-willy, she's so silly~!" I stayed with her for a whle, then I went inside.

The next morning everyone was strangely quiet, and after breakfast my mother told me what went down, "Honey, I think Jilly died..."

I was certain it wasn't true! I was so certain... but... in the back of my mind, I knew it WAS. I saw her lying still in the grass, in the sun, in the cold November air... I went out and saw her, tears welling up in my eyes...

I knelt... and petted her gently... giving her my usual greeting, "Hey baby girl, how ya doin'?" Just like the day before. Jill was cold. and stiff... and not so warm and soft... Jill was dead.

And so, I cried. I didn't know why, I never thought I'd cry at her passing for some reason, but I did. And I couldn't stop, I just couldn't stop. I'd always had Jill, I'd ALWAYS had her by my side, for as long as I could remember. A stage in my life was already ending, I'd already be leaving the grade school I'd went to for 9 years straight, why take my DOG from me, too? 

Later that day, I went to see her grave, and I knelt down and patted the freshly disturbed earth, smiling and teary eyed, sitting silently then saying, "Hey baby girl, how ya doin'? Today was hard without you... do you like it in the sun here? Yeah...It'll be alright...I'll be okay..."

-----

It's been a few months since Jill died, now, but I realized how much I missed her when I sat on the porch petting Krystal, our family's dog, not mine alone, and was talking to her... I felt like something was missing, though I couldn't tell what it was. Then I realized it. It was my first dog. It was a part of life. A part of my heart.  

What can I say? Jill was my companion, and at the latter part of her life I didn't give her nearly enough love... and I miss her. In May I'll be graduating, finalizing my departure from my more carefree days...Of my departure from Jill.

I feel like it's worthless to ever get another dog because there's no way any canine, no matter how lovely and gentle, can ever be the same as her... I wonder... how can I be happy without my dog?  

YoplaitYogurt YoplaitYogurt
13-15, F
Mar 17, 2009