I sort of get into a rhythm firing columns left, right, up and down, where I lose track of what’s around me. If I play long enough, I start zoning out and thoughts unspool in my brain while this stupid game sort of falls into the background, like ambient noise or moving wallpaper. The image of the place I used to live came into view. A sequence of thoughts began:
I had this roommate who took care of the place. She was a good person deep down but not really on the surface. And of course, I am forgiving and understand that the way someone like her is, is not a random thing with no history, no background; it is years and years of stuff un-dealt with.
My default of memories associated with people are usually, that I will think of them fondly if I liked them remotely, though there are a few people that come to mind that through misunderstanding or some other force out of both of our hands, the threads that bound us together broke. This is a source of occasional sadness these days, as I sit here typing this, kind of at the edge between leaving a past life and beginning my actual journey, self-consciously. A lot of what happened in the past – is dead weight now. It is conversely liberating to know I can drop it now and leave it behind as it rendered dysfunctional. These brazen experiences happened and they well deep, living on the ocean floor of my (sub)consciousness. It will become increasingly minuscule to the other meaning from other experiences that will accumulate form the larger body of my experience. Hopefully.
This roommate, is one such person that leaves a memorable mark on me and that I will probably never see ever again. We got along for a long time because we were naturally upbeat and social and had some things in common. And looking back, I realize I’ve changed a lot since then, mainly, that I’ve grown up, become a man and no longer have a certain innocence of or from life and am therefore, able to empathize. I couldn’t do all those things then.
While playing this game on a tablet device, I zoned out – thoughts of her dog came and the look in his eyes when he looked at me like a person with an understanding. He communicated with a stern expression in his manner as if to welcome me, but to caution me to tread lightly. That was probably the message he’d gotten directly from Andrea. He was old and ailing but I could have been fooled because his rollicking personality made him appear innocent and therefore, not aged.
Andrea couldn’t adequately take care of him in his worsening health. His skin was infected, becoming rough, losing patches of hair and giving off an increasingly pungent odor. His bladder distended, bellowing down by the week. In his last few weeks, he didn’t come inside nor did he eat. He threw up yellow liquid when he drank water. His energy fell off of a certain standard and weakness took hold to the gravity of sickness. In moments of rekindled awakening, he would get up and pretend that nothing was wrong so that Andrea’s sadness would not intensify. And it worked as a gesture, but not ultimately as a fact of his improving state. But Andrea knew this. The dog had charmed Andrea so many times. I saw Andrea in that time become quiet. She was usually loud, so loud that it seemed that she spoke as if trapped in a deep well trying to be heard by the rare passerby to be simply, heard. But in those weeks, she would gaze into space with mental clarity while her big dog lay in the shrub by the lone lover’s bench, in the courtyard wrapped in a bundle of blankets. On the last two days, he couldn’t walk. His face took on a kind of non-expression. His hind legs couldn’t adequately support his weight. And one afternoon, Andrea asked me if I could help her take him in. We lifted the blankets underneath him from either side lifting him off the ground and pulling the tension closer to our chests as we orchestrated together enough coordination to begin carrying him. He writhed and whined in pain and discomfort and we shimmied him up the courtyard steps through the back gate where my truck was waiting in the graveled alleyway with its back gate open. We took a quiet drive to the vet. She was in her casually observant way, lost, staring in thought and then those thoughts would surface lucidly, delivered and couched in the form of a lumbering question. Her usual, normally over-exaggerated tone given over to a sort of sober yet pensive acceptance. I had never seen her internalizing before with such totality. Once there, the vet explained to us the procedure. He seemed bothered by how long Andrea had waited.
The dog sensing the conversation was about him and began walking around in an unaffected and upbeat manner as if to say, “Who me?” But this time, I couldn’t tell if it were for Andrea’s protection, or his own or both. We were told how long it would take for the injection to take hold. Finally Andrea took a private moment with her dog and buried her face in his.
We waited in what seemed like mere moments before the vet came back out to let us back in. I really in all my mind and conception of death, was not prepared for what it actually happens. I have never actually been present at the scene of death. Upon entering, it was as if every subtle quality that added to this complex personality was suspended in the act of leaving its increasingly limp and utterly non-responsive body. This personality had not evaporated, but lingered in the air, leaving a dead body with an almost resolute vacancy of the face and of the facial muscles. We were at that threshold, that intermediary gateway between life and death. I was incredibly moved. It was as if this state or life had been sucked into a black hole while consciousness became uplifted.