Those of us who have pets, be it dogs or snakes, are more aware of this. We had a dog at home who was with us for eight years. Last year I returned home after a two year stint abroad, and one of the great joys of coming home was, of course, the welcome that I was anticipating from our resident canine. But there was a strange, vague foreboding in me all through the lonely flight from JKF airport in New York to my little hometown airport. Something made me not ask my parents how my beloved pet was doing, and I talked about everything else.
When we got home, I walked to the porch like I had done a thousand times before, but this time minus the huge, bounding, jumping, noisy welcome that was the norm every single time. Rambo (my father's idea to name our doggy that) was lying on the porch with his head down. As he saw me approaching, his tail thumped a few times and he looked at me in a sort of searching way, but did nothing else.
Then my parents told me that he had been sick for a while, but would get better soon. Well, for me things changed right then. He worsened steadily over the next day, and made one painful trip inside the house to sit near me. The next time he walked over the porch to his favorite spot, he didn't find the energy to get back up again. In the evening I sat with him. I tried to give him water and food, which he sniffed at or sipped sparsely.
Later in the evening, I had the sick realization that my beloved friend was never going to walk again. Only his eyes moved. We all spent a terrible night checking on him and not sleeping. At 5 am, I ran out to look at him and he was still there, but just breathing. His eyes never left mine for a moment; I will never forget the intensity of that gaze on me, as long as I live. I have never seen anything like it, before or since.
That day I went out again and again to hold him. Around 3 in the afternoon, I went to him again. He looked into my eyes with a sort of peace and sadness and his old familiar playfullness all rolled into one unforgettable gaze, and as I sat there cradling him, he died.
My parents and most other people said that he had been holding on, waiting to see me one last time before he went. Somehow, that thought was eerily comforting but deadly painful. This is what I mean by connections.