It was perfect fall weather. Well, perfect for me, anyway. In the middle of a sweltering, soul-crushing July day, I once stormed into my parents’ family room and asked them why in the hell they settled in Nebraska when northern Manitoba would be more in line with what our genetics might be able to handle. I drove to Memorial Park under gloomy fall skies that were just getting ready to drop rain on me. I parked my car at the side lot by the baseball field, set my Ipod to the Alice in Chains album, and went walking to the flower bed. It was the middle of the day, but there was still one guy walking his German shepherd through the park. I always have to resist bending over to pet a strange dog because they or their person might not be kosher with it and besides, they were on a walk and I didn’t want to disturb them. I certainly know how important walking your dog can be when you need to mull things over.
I cut across through the grass to the flower bed (Okay, full disclosure, I hadn’t been there for a while and so wasn’t entirely sure which flower bed it was where I scattered his ashes. See what I mean about memory problems? I mean good god, you’d think I’d remember where I buried my own damn dog). The winds were picking up by the time I got there and it had started to drizzle. The flowers were in the middle of their seasonal demise, but there was still plenty of dark yellow and red and green to create a nice backdrop for the moment.
“Hey man. So I made the decision about dumping the program. I just couldn’t bear it if somebody brought their dog in and I got so flustered by mundane stuff that I couldn’t focus enough to help them. I got emails from Dr. D and Christen and they totally understood why I was doing what I was doing and Christen even said I might be able to talk to her about where to go from here. I suppose, on some level I never quite could understand, I wanted to be able to know what ultimately brought you down and if there was anything I could do to prevent it.”
The wind really started blowing and it was raining pretty good by this time. I put my hood up and folded my hands in the front pocket of my hoody.
“I’m not sure what I’m gonna do now, but for the first time, I have the clarity of mind to know that I’m on the wrong path and I need to find the right one. I mean come on, I could barely wrap my head around science-related stuff before I got sick. All the rest of the stuff about restraint techniques and demeanor in a clinical environment and all that, I’ve got a pretty good handle on those things and I’m probably going to look into being a veterinary assistant. Christen said they are a pretty important part of the veterinary team, just without all the fossae and condyles and epicondyles and acetabulums [A.N. As my Medical Terminology book would say, if you want to know, look it up]. Anyway, I’m certainly not jumping ship, far from it. I guess I just decided that my place is more in the stern, not the bow. Jon and I are gonna get a place together. I told him last night we should think about getting a, whaddya call it, a Pomsky. It’s like a Siberian Husky but really small so we could comply with the silly-ass 20 pound rule of most landlords. Tellin’ ya, better living through breeding.”
The rain and the wind didn’t show signs of letting up, so I took out my Ipod and queued up “Rooster”.
“So that’s it. I just wanted to come tell you what’s going on. I miss you a lot. I even put one of the pictures Robin took of you as the backdrop on my blog, it’s such a good photo of you, the one where you’re coming at the camera head-on from that day you and Thunder were at the dog park. I’m
gonna go. I’ll come back and tell you where I’m going from here. You sit tight.”
I played the music and headed back to my car.