Goodbye Max

Beau Manatt

"Chewie Boy" Maggie Borota

All of the blood drains from my face. My hands and feet immediately go numb after I walk in the garage to join my parents. Although I don't feel sensation in my appendages, my heart jumps from my chest into my throat.

 

“This is really it,” I think to myself as I gaze upon one of the greatest friends God has ever given me. “This is goodbye.”

 

The one who was there to play with me when no one else would, who ate the scraps off my plate I didn’t want to eat, and who brought up over a hundred birds during family hunting is leaving forever.

 

Both of my parents are saying their own goodbyes. My dad comes to me first. With an empathetic tone in his voice, he says, “We both knew this day would eventually come.”

 

“Yeah, I know. Just wish she wouldn’t go like this,” I say.

 

My mom kisses Max's head and walks to me. “Stay strong. It’s just her time.”

 

The two of them leave the room so I can say farewell by myself.

Every step I take toward her feels as if I have cement blocks weighing me down. My entire body shakes and shivers as if I were in a Siberian blizzard. I kneel down and with a light touch, scratch right behind her ear. The way she always loves.

 

She still refuses to look at my eyes, as if she doesn’t want me to see the pain she is in. The hollow frame of what this magnificent beast once was lies before me.

 

Three weeks ago, she ran fast, her breath racing, her heart jumping for joy every time she was out in the field. Her black fur flowed in the wind and her tongue flew out of her mouth. But now—I see what once was being withered away.

 

Thoughts of confusion, anger, and sadness all pound through my brain. How? How did this happen so fast? This… can’t happen. It shouldn’t happen!

 

But it is. Only skin and bones are left now. Her rib cage can be seen underneath her, her dry stomach no longer visible. The stomach that used to go far past her ribcage, filled with an unhealthy amount of dog food after the time the bag had fallen over. The grooves of her spine show like a roller-coaster of ups and downs all the way to her skull. Even her eye sockets are as clearly-defined as the animal skeletons I see in my biology books for school. She is a breathing skeleton.

 

I can’t take it anymore. A wave of tears crushes me as I fall to my knees next to her, hugging her. The river of tears overflows into her fur. I can’t even imagine what she must be thinking. Does she know this is the end? Does she think I will make her better? Or does she not even care at this point?

 

I pull back and see that she finally has made eye contact with me. Although no words are spoken, I can tell exactly what she is saying. She is giving me the look as if she wants something.

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“I know girl; I know,” I say back. My hands softly hold her paw, letting her know that I will still love her forever. “The pain will be all gone soon. You will be able to eat all the food you want. You will run in the fields forever chasing all the birds and rabbits your heart desires.”

 

As I pull myself together, I remind her what she is to me one last time: “You’re a good girl, Max. I love you.”

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