A few years ago, I was lucky enough to go to Italy. I knew it would be a trip of a lifetime, and so I tried to plan. Those in charge of the trip had meetings, little language lessons, and lists. Organization. Anyone who knows me, knows how I like to know what’s ahead, I’m pretty much an agenda girl.  I’m also good at directions, following them. Giving directions, being in charge, not so much. Getting ready for Italy was easier than I thought because I was told what to do and given an itinerary. Still I wanted to plan one more thing and I didn’t know how. Somehow I wanted to plan for “what to bring back.” What souvenirs would I most want from Italy? I decided to seek out everyone I knew who had ever traveled abroad to ask them one question.

“Was there anything you wish you had brought back from your trip?” I didn’t figure I’d get many answers, but I did. Unfortunately for me, they all seemed to be different. However the one thing they did agree on was that the memories were wonderful.  The memories seemed an obvious choice, but what of the other. . . . . . .

While lying on the couch with Bronte this morning, I wondered something similar. What would I want most from my journey with her?

Each day I notice more change. Yesterday, it was Bronte’s face. The cancer has started to misshapen it. More so than any of her scares ever did. The tumor grows fast. One of Bronte’s dearest friends came to see her this afternoon. Bronte was happy to see her, but to know Bronte is to know that she wasn’t her “over the top waggy-butt self.” This afternoon she really didn’t want to get off her bed on the floor. Later she didn’t seem interested in her little ice cream cup at first. Bronte was quiet, low-keyed. Two behaviors Bronte is not especially when she has company. Well, in Bronte’s world, all company has been her company. And that’s change.

What are the souvenirs I should plan for? What’s the list? What am I going to wish for later? I don’t want to get up from this couch. I don’t want to move. I want to stay right here on this couch right next to Bronte for as long as she stays right here. Then I just want to go wherever she goes. That’s it. I just want to spend these days with her. I don’t know what to want for later. I feel a sense of panic.

Last weekend was a hint of spring. Bronte, David, Lana and I spent a good part of one afternoon out in the yard. Lana had her digital camera and I, by fate, had the loan of a friend’s video camera. It was a special afternoon, spur of the moment, not planned for recording, but caught for time anyway. For me, it’ll be a while before I’ll come to process the video and the photos.

Sometimes I’m slow to come to things as I sit here worried, my brain going ahead of my heart. The stoic planner wanting to protect the emotional side. I realize I’ve already taken care what I will come back to hold. I’ll eventually come to those photos and videos. I’ll have the email responses from when I sent my email about Bronte being sick. I’ll have this blog to revisit and maybe to add to and continue. Of course I have years of memories and stories. Memories are the gifts all pet caretakers are given. But this “knowing thing” and “deciding thing” just cuts you to the core when it first presents itself. Knowing what lies ahead, what is left to traverse makes me shake on the inside like I’m cold and just can’t get warm.

Our journey is going to be shorter than I planned. All I can hope is that I have been doing the best that I can with marking the “knowing” I was given. To hope that I have done right by Bronte with the “knowing” I was given. To hope that what I will want later from my journey with Bronte is all without regret. . . . . . . . . .

When I left for Italy, I had decided that I wanted a little piece of Murano glass. When I was in Italy, I decided I wanted a piece of street art from every city that I went to. Like others, I brought home some wine, olive oil, and leather. The wine, oil and leather were not the souvenirs of the heart.  The heart souvenirs were the pieces of art that I have to look at knowing I was there, and the tiny piece of Murano glass around my neck that I touch everyday.


One thought on “Souvenirs

  1. there are no words, other than to say thank you for allowing me to be a part of this process. it has been a very short year indeed, but today, this moment, it is sunny and warm and spring will come to us all very soon.

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