My father and I sit side by side at the vet's office
my first dog sits between our feet
panting in pain, eaten by cancer.
I stroke her black fur.
I have never known death before,
but I know
this is the right thing to do.
My father has known death.
He is silent, somber.
He didn't want this.
Even after she stopped eating,
and started whimpering,
he didn't want this.
My mother and I forced him
to come here.
We sit and wait for our turn.
I wonder how many of these animals
sitting around us will die today,
and if they know.
'It's the waiting I can't stand," I tell my father.
He shakes his head, his hair almost as dark
as the dog's fur.
'Don't say that. Once it's over, it's over.'
I turn away.
I have not learned this yet,
the finality of things.
I have not yet realized,
how much of life is
really just waiting for the needle,
the knife, the bullet, the bad news.
I don't yet know that life is what happens
between the skin and the needle,
that the thin sliver between
existence and oblivion
is where our entire world rests.
Then they call her name,
and I learn.
'Want to go for ice cream?" he asks me, after.
His despair is heavy and silent.
"No, but we can, if you want to," I say.
my first really vivid childhood experience with death.