7:51 p.m. - Monday, Jan. 21, 2008
We saw the little dog limping along beside the busy Dan Ryan Expressway, one afternoon as we were driving home, my then-boyfriend and I. He pulled over and we got out to investigate. She moved away from us at first, but finally let us catch up to her. She looked scared, but her tail wagged and wagged and would not stop. We coaxed her back to the car and took her home. Her right front leg was broken, she was half-starved, but even so she was happy, and I, who was studying Latin at the time, named her Laetitia because of her insistent happiness. The vet who set her leg told us she was probably 3 or 4 years old.
That was in 1989, I think. I was living in Hammond at the time, miserably. When I bought this little house out in the country, I brought Laetitia out here with me. I've never known this house with Laetitia. I've lived here 17 years.
She'd been declining for some time. Incontinent for at least a year. Last summer I found myself obliged to carry her up and down the stairs going in and out of the house. The past few weeks I've had to carry her everywhere inside the house — to her bed, to her bowl, to the water dish, outside, and back to her bed. I've had her snuggled up under my desk, carefully covered with a cotton towel to keep her warm. I wondered from time to time if it was right to keep her alive when she was so frail, but still she had a vigorous appetite, and when a dog goes through so much and reaches the age of 21 or 22, I felt that I had to respect her will to live.
This morning she told me, clear as a bell, that she was ready to go. So I let her go.
I've been keeping busy all day, cleaning house, taking the other dogs for long walks, shopping, and now cooking coq au vin, just to keep my mind occupied so I don't have to try to wrap it around the idea of this house with Laetitia.
I tuned in to this program on the local classical music station that I listen to sometimes — Exploring Music with Bill McLaughlin — and it so happens he's exploring requiems. Thank you, Mr. McLaughlin.