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Part 1

Solitary star's light cleaves predawn sky. Morning's mourning starts. Eyes fill in striking silence. Departed thumping, crunching, sipping, crackling, pouncing, yelping, woofs and wags of canine elder years seem bound within that star. Humane euthanasia took our beloved rescue dog of sixteen years from us last Thursday. I bleed from broken heart. She, too frail to survive a replay of once restorative surgery, clearly near the end, could merely slide in circles along our Brooklyn apartment’s parquet floor. The soft towel robed and calmed her as if from a baby’s bath, as Sharon’s gentle grasp of wrist helped me lift our dog then rise past aged, aching joints for us to share a final journey. Neither leaving home through artic air nor gently sliding inside her Corolla back-seat spot did not alarm our ailing friend. “She knows we’re taking care of her,” said Sharon. Head raised toward others’ highway headlights, eyes exploring darkness, Boey was peaceful and alert, even poised despite her stretcher placement as we parked beside Manhattan's Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, the hospital where expert hands and open hearts would greet her. There, seven years ago, its staff restored our friend’s rear legs and saved her life. Sharon and I, though still hoping, sensed that this time Boey wouldn’t leave.

Part 2

“Let’s not foreclose or assume,” our daughter declared as I softly broached by phone that we prepare to farewell our companion. “We’ll take one step at a time, where Boey’s in the best of hands,” I assured as Sharon met our son. The doctor’s youth surprised us, but we found her tone supportive, speech specific. Her team’s hours-long assessments dispelled the canine pain but found cancers which, with weight loss in Boey’s weakened state, ruled out the triplet MRI, X-ray and surgery that she would not survive. Sam nearby at Times Square came quickly while Katy from Brooklyn contended with F train travails. Our observing eyes in the reception room found Doctor Karp’s laser focus on other families without losing track when she rejoined us remarkable. Our quartet talked through then confirmed our decision, posing questions, assessing “what ifs” about the utility of MRI or X-ray or till tearful clarity obtained while unanimity remained. A blanket clad Boey, sitting up on a stretcher, met us with frisky tail thumps and tongue licks beneath the Bereavement Room’s soft lights. Caressing her fur and kissing her face, we answered love with love. Take as much time as you need, we heard while knowing it too soon must end. Our collective embrace cradled Boey as the doctor’s first needle brought sleep, the second heart stopped. We sat with her till life beckoned, hearts broken.

Part 3

Our technology savvy species has sparse insight into the mysticism of souls and shies from facing mortality; that’s morbid, some say. To deny is naïve, I reply. I presume no afterlife or reincarnation, neither heaven’s paradise nor hell’s torment. “The self and the rest of the universe are not separate entities, but one functioning whole,” a Zen tenet says, from which I sense the soul blends with the cosmos having left the body’s shell. That’s as far as I surmise. Denial sows suspicion, isolation. Better to cherish one’s dwindling days amid the tarnished miracle of God’s Creation than to fear one’s sure demise. Five days on from Boey’s death, I amidst my spilling tears find comfort in ample evidence that our companion knew that she was loved.

Meaning flows from the synchronous strides of limbs that walk now through nature’s beauty. The mind strives for ephemeral peace and justice goals that we with friends pursue. The heart extends, renewing human bonds. Solace stems from memories of our gone companion and morning’s solitary star.

About the Author

Michael McQuillan

Michael McQuillan is a former US Senate aide, Peace Corps Volunteer, and history teacher for 19 years. He also chaired the NYPD Training Advisory Council’s Race Subcommittee in the aftermath of the killing of Eric Garner. The Write Launch has published Mike’s poetry and Creative Nonfiction.