Max has died. His mama took him to the doctor early, early this morning because he wasn’t breathing well. The xray showed lots of tumors. Max could only breathe with the help of an oxygen mask. Now he’s gone and his mama is distraught. She talked about him all the time, how he was the last one left after the others went sashaying off into work and relationships and whatevers. If Max was an expensive partner, she didn’t seem to mind. Surely his medical bills grew as his illness progressed but mama just plugged along, praying he would get better and keeping her Facebook friends up to date on his condition. Touch and go, tears one day, good news the next. It doesn’t matter that Max had a tail and fur. Doesn’t matter that Max would never go to college or get married. All that matters is that he was more than just a dog to Judy. He was her life; her door-greeter, foot-warmer, kisses-on-top-of-kisses partner. Who else would curl up around her feet no matter how tired or sweaty? Who else could not care less if her hair was a mess and her nails undone? Who else loved her when she was grumpy, moody or just plain ugly? So now Judy is alone. Really, really alone. Right now she’s probably throwing away her special friend’s bowl, folding his sleep blanket wondering where to put it. She’s not thinking I shouldn’t be this sad. Max was only a dog. She’s hurting, full out, as she should be. As we all would be. She has loved and lost, period. Was it Shakespeare who said it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? He knew better than to qualify his words with to have loved and lost a person. Loss is loss whether it’s four-legged partner or two. My heart goes out to you Judy. May Max rest in the cradle of your memories. And about that blanket…maybe you should sleep with it tonight. And tomorrow night, too.