February 29th on our calendar is always José Day. Actually since there's usually not a February 29th, we have to write it into the square for February 28th. This is the first year since we lost José that there actually is a Leap Day. That makes it extra special to me, somehow - that, and the fact that this is the first year since we lost José that we have a dog again. Always at the end of February we celebrate José, and this year we'll get to celebrate Nicholas too. My hope had been to maybe get lucky with the weather and be able to take Nicholas on a nice after work walk, but since, when I got up this morning, it was raining and a little bit snowing, I think we'll end up going right to the part about food, including treats for Nicholas, and a showing of Lassie Come Home. A happy dog movie, this time. On the first leapish day after we lost José, we looked for a good doggy movie and rented Umberto D and I had to practically cry myself to sleep.
[Look how different they are. First: José.]
[ And Nicholas.]
[the size of pictures doesn't show favoritism. just shows that i'm too lazy to load photopaint and resize them.]
March first, 2008, was the day José left us, but February 29th, was his last full day. He and I stayed home together and we did many lovely things. We napped. We sat in the sun in the bay window. We sat in the sun, in the grass, at Couch Park. We went for a walk to sniff great smells like trees and hydrants and the dumpsters behind Hurley's Restaurant. [Well, he didn't walk much at that time, so I carried him.] We had bites of chicken and licks of prune baby food from the back of a spoon [José did, not me]. We peed on my sock and we peed on the bathroom wall [José did, not me]. And then in the afternoon, I sat with him on the couch for about two and a half hours and told him the stories of his life.
"Now," I said, "I'm going to tell you the story of a dog."
In the evening, Stephen came home from work with a load of goodies from Whole Foods, including a tiny bit of roast beef for José. We sat in bed, and I told all those stories again.
Here's one I didn't tell that day but one that for some reason stays with me.
It's early morning, some day in January, 2008. José and I have been outside in the dark to do his business, me holding him up as he pees in the grass since he's not too sure on his feet anymore. Now we're in the kitchen, standing in the hum from the refrigerator, me opening a can of dog food, José just below me.
I should sit him down so he doesn't fall over, but somehow in this moment I'm distracted. Early morning fog. Not much sleep lately.
He turns, sniffing, and as he does, he loses his balance. I glance in time to see he's going to fall but not in time to put down the dog food and the can opener and get my hands free. On impulse, my foot comes out, and José's butt sits down onto it and balances there.
He doesn't seem to think anything of it. Just sits, content.
And so I finish opening the can, standing one-footed in the morning chill of some day less than two months before Leap Day, with a tiny, old dog balanced warm on the top of my foot.
[josé and me getting ready to decorate for christmas.]
[josé and a camel.]
[josé and a bathrobe.]
[josé and my wedding dress.]
[josé and stephen and kitty.]
[josé and me.]