In a blink, my pain is gone. I have the energy of a pup again.
I hop to my feet like I would have years ago to look for a toy.
A light, as bright as the ball in the sky, catches my attention. I can’t look away from it.
A figure begins to take shape. As the being becomes more defined, it’s apparent it’s another dog. There’s something familiar about this canine. Is that… “Casey?”
The dog fully materializes. “It is you. I haven’t seen you since Becky and Dana took you in the car without me. You never came home after that. Where you’ve been?”
Casey looks the same as the last time I saw her years ago. Her face, which had been predominately white, hasn’t aged a bit.
She stares at Becky and Dana’s bed where Becky lays alone. “Thanks for looking out for them after I left.” She wears the smile I feel I portray when Becky and Dana come home. Then she looks to where I’m standing.
A motionless Golden Retriever lays on the floor near my bed.
Is that… me?
It can’t be. How could I be looking at myself? Then awareness comes to me. “Have I gone where you went?” I ask.
Somehow, I knew that. “I’m going away too?”
Casey doesn’t answer. She doesn’t have to.
“I can’t go. I haven’t felt good for a while and I don’t have the energy I had, but they still need me. Charlie loves them, but he doesn’t follow them around the house like I do. How will they know they are loved? He’s sick and may not be with them much longer. Who will look out for them? Greet them when they come home? Show them they were missed? Who will keep them company when the other is away?”
“Those are all questions I asked myself too,” Casey says. “Yet, it worked out.”
The longing need to jump on the bed and get petted is dwindling. I’m coming to realize, I can no longer show them they are loved.
“Will I see them again?”
“Yes,” Casey says. “Time is meaningless where I’m guiding you to. Before you’ve realized they’re not with you, you’ll see them again.”
“How can that be? I already miss them.”
So many regrets flash through my head. “I wish I could thank them for rescuing me. For all the walks we took in the woods with all the interesting smells. That I didn’t mean to make them upset when I rolled in deer or goose poop, but couldn’t help it. For taking me with them in the camper instead of leaving me with strangers. For letting me sleep with them. And most importantly; for showing me my love for them was reflected back unconditionally.”
“They know,” Casey takes one more look, than walks into the light.
I take a last look at Becky. “Wait, Dana’s away. I need to see him before I go.”
The room changes to a bedroom I’ve never seen. Dana sleeps in one of the two beds. Is this where he goes when he leaves for several days?
While we stare at him, he opens his eyes, then closes them.
Casey sighs, then walks into the light.
“I turn to follow her, then stop, taking a last look over my shoulder seeing both of the beds they sleep in. “I don’t want to leave them?”
“It’s okay. They’ll be sad for a while. They’ll miss you. In time, they’ll find peace in knowing you aren’t suffering. They’ll never forget you. You’ll always hold a place in their heart.”
Casey wouldn’t lie to me.
“Come on” she says. “Ella’s got a ball I know you’ll love.”
“Ella? She’s here too?”