She paced the hallways and took a long time to enter her friend’s room. She should go in. She wanted to go in. Yet she held off, knowing that there were only a few more times that she would enter the room to find her friend sleeping or playing, or simply waiting for her. She was locked in a countdown and each visit meant there was one less visit. Her friendship account was almost empty and she knew that there were no more deposits to be made.
For the past two years she had prepared for tomorrow. She was well familiar with both the inevitable and the unexpected, crossing both bridges many times. Surely, seeing what she had seen through the scratched prism of middle age had given her the strength and resolve to withstand this and more.
Yet on this day before tomorrow she stood outside the room wavering, for while she understood to a certainty what she must do, her fear and her heart raged because nothing in her years had answered the question that consumed her to a like certainty.
Will my friend understand what I must do?
She pulled herself through the doorway and found her friend asleep on the couch. She went and sat by him and gently placed her hand upon him. His breathing was nearly imperceptible as his lungs strained for each breath, and he did not open his eyes.
They sat there together for a long time. She moved little so as not to disturb him and she watched the clock inch its way towards midnight, marking the start of the day. Through the hours she watched the movie in her mind and their 15 years together rolled by and she wondered whether he had any sense that it had been that long. She smiled to herself for she had no sense of the time that had passed. To her it seemed oddly like only 15 minutes.
Midnight came and so did the morning. She had dosed off for a time and when she woke he was still next to her and his eyes were open. He rolled himself onto his belly, and with nearly the last ounce of strength he lifted himself onto his four legs and he stretched his front paws towards the unknown and looked up at her.
I can stretch no more my dear friend. And I understand what we must do.
With that, he curled up and waited, for he knew that today was the day, and that he had 15 years with his best friend, savoring each minute.