This is the summer our dog dies.
She was the dog you had been waiting for, the one you encouraged me to wait for when I insisted instead on a quick fix.
You found her in a field, abandoned. A show-quality mastiff who had been bred and dumped (or perhaps ran away, escaped a fate we didn’t want to consider).
You named her Lulu. She had soft, silver ears, and we loved her.
She sat by my feet on Saturday mornings, during my writing time. She curled in a chair in our bedroom to watch over you during the days while you slept, before you finally gave that shit up and said working nights was just plain stupid, that it was going to be the death of you, of us.
Lulu dies in my lap after our morning walk, the week after I turn 50.
It’s the only time our children have seen us cry.
I roll out some clay and make an imprint of Lulu’s paw before you wrap her in a blanket and take her to be cremated.
I write the date in the clay and realize, absently, that it has been almost exactly 20 years since you and I first met, since the day I stood on a deck, squinting in the late afternoon sun with my sister, watching you bound down Snow King.
You took me to the demolition derby at the Teton County Fair, said I didn’t know what I’d been missing if I’d never been to one of those before.
Where did those people go?
Fiction: We are aging gracefully, accepting the ups and downs of life with Zen-like wisdom.
Fact: We are so far from where we started that it is almost impossible to see a way back.
Our friend the judge, who married us, and his wife, who held our baby, invite us to their daughter’s wedding. You drag out your suit (that is getting tight) but refuse to cut your hair. I put on wrinkle filler and Spanx and lipstick (but not red, because you hate that) and the antique crystal necklace you gave me for Mother’s Day when our children were babies.
We should take a picture, I say, while we’re dressed up.
And that makes you laugh.