Dear Rio

Dear Rio,

I wish you could tell me what was going on with you. I wish I knew if you were in pain. I wish I could fix everything that was hurting you.

I wish I knew why you couldn’t go upstairs the other night. Why did you stand at the food of the stairs, looking up at me with longing eyes? I don’t want to believe your legs are going bad or that your hips have started to succumb to the Great Dane fate.

I wish I knew why you had to go outside so much at night. I don’t want to think that you’re about to become incontinent. I wish I knew why you pooped while sleeping, and just laid there, resigned. I don’t want this to be the beginning, I just want this to be an accident.

I wish I knew that the lumps and growths on your body were benign. That the ever-growing ball on your long leg wasn’t malignant and signaled something worse. That the sore on your back that struggles to heal hasn’t grown and gotten worse since I left for school last September.

I wish you had a longer lifespan, that I wouldn’t have to worry about your decline at the age of 9. I know I’ve worried about you gaining weight because you eat so much, maybe because you’ve had depression, but I hope you never stop eating. Because if you stop, then I’ll know.

Remember when you were a baby, and I held you and cried? I was 13 and I cut myself for the first time, and I looked at you and felt guilty. I promised you I would never do it again. I know I broke that promise, 8 years later, and 2 more times after that, but I promise I’ll stop if you stay with me at least until I graduate. There’s been so many times I’ve wanted to kill myself while I was away at school or back when I was in Israel, but the thought of seeing you and Jackie one more time kept me going.

I’m not ready for you to leave, yet, Rio. I love you so much. I love seeing how excited you get when dad comes home or I have chicken bones in my hands. I love seeing you lick and groom Jackie’s face because you’re her mother. I love watching you catch food in the air. I love playing with your belly and lightly kicking you like a soccer ball.

I’m not ready to lose you, yet, Rio. What will I tell Jackie? She looks up to you so much, and I know she loves you. I’m not ready to be there, in the vet office with you, and holding you as the clock ticks and you breathe your last breath.

But I know it will come eventually. And if it’s now, I’ll be grateful that I was home to be here with you. I promise, Rio. When you’re ready to go, I’ll be there every step of the way, and I’ll make sure you’re not alone. I’ll make sure you have the best last day ever. That you will eat all the cheese you’d like, all the milk bones to chew on, and all the love you’ll need in the afterlife.

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