Under the Lemon Tree

“Mom, I think Blaze has a tumor on his behind,” I say lifting up his tail. 

He always sits there in the sun, his black-mahogany coat shining. He always looks so stoic sitting under the lemon tree in my backyard. Blaze has been my best friend, confidant and personal cuddle buddy for ten years now. 

You know how people say that whichever dog you choose, is your spirit guide? I am 100% a believer in that. Blaze is a black lab and bull-mastiff mix, we got him off of Craigslist around Christmas time in 2010 for 75 dollars.  Everyone fell in love with him immediately. The puppy that wobbled around with worms in his stomach, flinched at the crackle of stomped-on leaves and slept all day. We couldn’t get enough of Blaze. 

Blaze is everyone’s best friend. He’s a fiend for belly-rubs. He jumps at any opportunity for attention and he loves to give hugs. Blaze is the nicest dog I’ve ever had. If there was any way to design the perfect dog, you would have thought that my family did exactly that. 

His calm and inviting demeanor makes him the perfect subject for any Fiona Apple song. He loves to love and be loved. But as friendly as he is, he is feisty and very much above the pettiness of the world if you ask me. My dog is a Scorpio for God’s sake. He fights if he has to. Right now, he’s fighting. 

His sickness began a couple of weeks ago. 

I can’t help but cry thinking about his imminent death. It feels as though I’m crying sparingly, in parts; saving up for the stream of my waterfall. Everyone wants him to wag his tail, perk his head up when we ask him excitedly:

“Do you wanna go for a walk?!” 

But he doesn’t. This old dog is not the dog I’m familiar with right now. The shadow he carries above him mimics the reflection of an elderly man with a cane. I can’t help but hug him and kiss the top of his nose. Ten years is a long time though. 

“Why am I so accepting of this?” I’ve asked myself this question a thousand times. 

The feeling of looming death is so familiar and unsettling to me. Death right now, is the blight of this pandemic. I’m so worried about everything. I’ve watched Blaze expel bile, stare blankly into my eyes and relieve himself in the form of black stools. 

It seems like death is becoming a formal acquaintance of mine. Grey wraps around the snout of my dog who can barely lift his head. Who can’t eat. Who can’t go on walks. Who doesn’t roll around in the grass anymore. I’m wondering why I’ve accepted that he’s gone while he’s still breathing. Maybe because it’s so hard to watch… I want the credits to roll already. Maybe because I’m evading another bout with depression, I don’t have the emotional capacity to weather another storm. Maybe I’m growing older. Is it easier for me to let go as I get closer to death myself? 

What the hell can I do? 

Carry him to the vet and leave him inside, we can’t go in during the pandemic. Wait outside for them to fine us for not having his shots up to date or a license? See if they can save him anyway? Take all my money right now, I don’t care about it anymore. I’m tired of watching and waiting. I don’t want my parents to be sad. I don’t want to be sad. 

“Please God, please let him live a little longer,” I beg, looking upwards at the ceiling. 

“And God, if he leaves, I hope he leaves a parting gift by visiting me. I hope to see him basking in the sun in my dreams, sitting right under the lemon tree.”

 

Rest in Peace: Blaze, 10/26/09-4/20/2020

 

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