i'm not ready for another broken heart, or, nothing says mortality like your sick dog

Tala has cancer.

As it happened with Cody, we found a lump. First I was sure it was a cyst, then I was hoping it was a cyst, now I'm just hoping it's not an iceberg. 

There's a big ugly tumoury thing sticking out, but this type of sarcoma is known to have internal tentacles. We're having x-rays done today to see if the cancer has spread to any organs, then - we hope - surgery as soon as possible.

Cody's cancer turned out to be highly operable and likely not metastasized, and we were thrilled to celebrate one more Cody Day. But it did turn out to be her final year. Tala Day is in late January. Will she be with us in January 2017? 

The answer to that, of course, is we don't know. 

And the answer to that is we never know. We don't know about Tala and we never know about any of us.

I feel that we never know every day. I'm not trying to be maudlin or melodramatic; it's just a fact. I feel my own mortality, and that of everyone I love, every single day. I have the impression - based only on observation - that this is not universal. But perhaps it's universal but most people don't admit it, or do a better job of blocking it out.

It's not like I walk around thinking, "I'm going to die". I'm not a character from a Woody Allen film. I just have a strong sense, deep down, that all we have is right now. That right now is our happiness, our love, our passions, our pain, our opportunity to give our lives meaning. And any time other than right now is an illusion.

(This has some unfortunate reprecussions in my life, like real difficulty saying no to myself, and resulting credit card debt. And the constant nagging fear that I should be spending our so-called retirement savings. I look at the stupid savings plan and think, will we live long enough to use this money? I'd like to know, please, because if not, I'm making travel plans.)

In almost 30 years of sharing our lives with dogs, we've said goodbye to four beloved animals so far. At this point, I see every dog as a heartbreak waiting to happen. It's worth it - for me there's no doubt - but as I get older, as the years start whipping by faster and faster, their time with us seems so very fleeting. If you adopt, as we always have, that time is shorter still, both because they're not puppies when you take them, and because a rescued dog's life span is usually shorter. 

And going through that whole journey, from "I think we're ready to adopt another dog" to that final goodbye, you come face to face with right now is all we have.

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