Just A Me Day


March 21, 2010-March 25, 2022

May you find an abundance of foxes to chase and never catch, a bounty of cat-food cans to clean, and frozen cream puffs for every dessert.

Last photo, prior to Thursday’s good day, with Ki’o keeping watch.

Saturdays are an “Oz and me” day: Lynn goes to work and we don’t have to, so it’s just Oz and me, going about our day. Today, it’s just a me day.

Oz had a great day Thursday, another high bounce back toward normalcy. I was hoping he’d be able to walk to the end of the driveway that morning; instead, he chugged right along toward our next-door neighbors, where Mrs. Leonard, who had heard about Oz’s condition from her husband the night before, burst into tears and kissed him on the head. She brought Charlie, their spaniel puppy, out to greet Oz, and Oz followed her all over the place, even starting down the road — at a trot — much farther than I intended.

Then we went to work, where he leaped out of the car and once inside moved around a lot more than he had all week, happily accepting snacks from James and Gilly and greeting our new employee Andy and my friend Rita. He trotted — trotting! — back to the car for lunch, and he and Lynn went on their favorite walk along the river before he plowed through dinner. I even bought another case of his chicken stew, because I was afraid we’d run out before the weekend was over.

And then after midnight — the witching hour — it all went completely south, spooling out over the next eight hours before Dr. Portmann and her assistant Melinda made unplanned space in their Friday schedule to provide their oh-so-tender mercies and set Oz free as peacefully as anyone could ever hope for, his chin resting on the stuffed duck he loved more than all his other toys combined.

Through the mercies of others — Lynn’s boss went to Almont so she could come home, while Kara, dealing with her own pet loss that same morning, gave me strict orders to stay home — we were both right there with him, along with the cats. Ki’o, who’d kept watch next to me most of the night, crawled between Lynn and me, while Marrakesh prowled on the far side of the water dishes where Oz had called a halt after a last trip outside around 4:30.

Then Lynn, who missed the text from her boss telling her to just stay home, went off to work where she was glad to keep busy. I lay down to try to reclaim some lost sleep, and as long as I was lying there it was fine, but when I finally got up the house was unbearably empty despite the cat presence.

That’s when depression slammed in like a Mack truck. I went out for a walk in a direction I didn’t usually go with Oz, and it was such an effort to even move my feet. There has been so much loss the whole world over these last few years, come home to roost for me in one little fluffy bear of a dog . . . I spent most of the rest of the day sleeping.

And now it’s my first Saturday without Oz. I have determined that after breakfast, I will break out my bike, hoping the tires have not gone flat, rather than going for our usual Saturday morning inspection tour, the tour we’ve taken nearly every Saturday since before our house was even a hole in the ground.

I’ll still have to run some errands in town, but I guess it will be without a backseat driver noisily demanding his windows be rolled down — and just as I get the passenger window down, he decides he’d rather be on the driver’s side. Out of habit, I’ll probably still deliver the lecture, as I get out of the car, telling him to stay there and wait.

Lynn and I were once in Target in Montrose, in the dog aisle debating which snack to buy Oz when Lynn said, “Do you hear that?” She insisted the loudspeaker was making an announcement about a dog wandering around the parking lot. I told her she was hearing things, but when we went out to the car, there was no dog in it.

It was 5 p.m., and I had visions of Oz having been picked up by animal control, now closed for the day, and at least one of us having to come back the next day to get him. I got in the car and started driving around nearby environs, while Lynn went back into the store — where she found Oz happily ensconced behind the service desk.

The moral of that story might ought to be, “Always listen to your wife,” but I took it to mean that we needed to get Oz a tag with our phone numbers on it. It ended up being a heavy metal tag that thunked on the floor every time he flopped down, but it did get put to use by kind strangers on more than one occasion.

Oz never did learn to be okay with being left alone. From starting to literally scream as though he were being murdered after about the third stop of an afternoon in Montrose to just wriggling out of the car if he felt like my errands were taking too long, he made it amply clear that he preferred being with his people. Even if I left him with all his friends at work while I ran errands, I would get a report of how he had waited anxiously for me to come back. Every time.

Just a few months ago, when Lynn and I were in line at Tractor Supply, I looked down at a dog walking near me and thought, “That’s a good-looking dog” before I realized it was my good-looking but not good-behaving dog who had once again jumped out of the car like he wasn’t supposed to. I put him in the car, went back to my place in line — and here he came again. Incorrigible, but I hope you all get to be on the receiving end of such devotion.

Oz never did learn to be okay with being left alone. It turns out, today, that I’m not okay with it either. Miss you, buddy.

7 thoughts on “Just A Me Day

  1. You are in my thoughts. Friday night I happened to attend a choir concert with theme Requiem, chosen to provide community a time of solace for all the recent losses. As the sound of beautiful voices swirled all around, so did thoughts of you and your grief.


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