I saw my father in the dying of the dog.
It was a slow, intentional, graceful death
that stretched itself out over months,
all the while breaking daddy’s heart.
The dog began to walk slowly,
as if he were dragging his feet through honey.
Each step was lifted, suspended above the ground a moment,
placed gingerly back.
Then, the lump on the back of his leg appeared,
boiling up and presenting itself in what seemed like a moment.
After that, the sleeping.
He had always enjoyed basking in the Alabama sun out on the deck, but it became his only activity.
Sleep, eat, sleep, drink, sleep. That was his routine.
He began to ignore the little dog,
growling at her when she wanted him to play.
After a while, his light naps became deep sleep at all hours of the day. We often had to knock loudly on the window
just to make sure he would wake up again.
One day when we went to feed him,
he didn’t come at the sound of the food striking the metal bowl.
As soon as we touched him, we knew.
He left soundlessly, forever frozen in his favorite position,
curled up innocently by the window.
My father became a strange parallel to him.
When the dog slowed,
His thoughts were soupier, taking longer to formulate into full sentences when he spoke.
He often forgot to eat, and when he remembered,
he rarely finished his meal before moving on to something else.
He spent most of his time in his red recliner, lying perfectly still.
He snapped at innocent questions and simple gestures addressing him, and could no longer tolerate loud talking or music.
He withered as the dog withered, slowly but surely.
They both grayed around the eyes,
a marking of wisdom, but also of age.
They were one soul split into two bodies, though one found a peaceful escape.
Daddy stayed here.