“Did you show him the pictures?” my friend asked after I told her I’d read a children’s book to my dying dog.
I shared how my fifteen-year-old terrier-poodle mix, Moxie, lay beside me on the couch, the weight of his head on my thigh. He lived his last few years with mounting medical issues, including kidney failure and intestinal tumors. Nothing more could be done.
The book, recommended as part of a writing project, arrived two days early, two hours before his passing. I retrieved the package from the mailbox, returned to Moxie’s side, and started to silently read I’m in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor.
The narrator, a nameless young woman, could be you or me. In a barren desert, she finds beauty that makes her “heart pound.” She puts herself in charge of her own celebrations and says:
It has to be something
I plan to remember
the rest of my life.
Even though reading to my dying dog didn’t feel like a typical celebration, I chose to do it in order to celebrate Moxie, to remember our last moments together for the rest of my life. As my hands turned to the first page, I heard my voice read words aloud. I paused at commas, line breaks, and periods. My voice inflection changed as I read questions. Reading to him felt natural.
I answered my friend’s question, “Yes, I showed him the pictures.”
Photo by Sasha The Okay Photographer