Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

You Were Always There For Me

Well, this story was not supposed to take this long to come out, but as the organization that was supposed to publish it, got delayed because of Covid19, I have decided not to wait any longer.

So, this is a project that I do every year.  It is a short story piece that I write and submit for publishing.  This year I had decided to write about experiences with my late fur friend, but from his point of view.  I hope you enjoy it.

I want to thank fellow long term cancer survivor and author Lara Vaughan Lazenby for her help with this story.


You Were Always There For Me

Hi there.  My name is Pollo, pronounced like the cologne, but spelled like Spanish chicken.  I do not know why I was given that name.  But hearing it has always made me happy, and I heard my name a lot.

Paul always seemed to know what I liked, and what was best for me.  In fact, I knew I could always count on Paul.  There was this one time he took me swimming, because I really liked the water.  I was a really good swimmer too!  I think I had fun because all I remember of that day is one moment I was splashing away, and the next, I was running from this other person wearing a white coat, towards Paul.  His eyes were leaking.  I did not understand this.

Fortunately, I would remember everything else as I got older.  Like this one time, Paul went out the front door, but did not come back in, for six lights and darks.  This was unusual, because Paul never went anywhere without me.  We were buddies.  When he finally came home, I was so happy.  And I let him know it too.  My tail wagged so hard and fast, it knocked everything over within reach.

But there was something odd about Paul.  He did not seem like himself.  He actually smelled kind of funny.  I have never experienced that smell before – not from the house, the car, outside – very unusual.

Paul was happy to see me too, though he could have been a bit more excited.  Something was different about him.  When he would feel better, we could get back to normal and play.  In the meantime, I just sat beside him, stared up at him, with my head on his knee.  He had always taken care of me.  It was my turn to take care of him.

Another situation would happen again, only this time, strange men came into our house, woke us up, and then took Paul away on a bed with wheels.  It would be days before I would see him again, and he came home with that same odor.  I did not like that smell.

I could not understand why this kept happening to him.  We liked to play and have fun.  I missed that.  From what I could comprehend, Paul was sick a long time ago, and these events that kept happening to him were because of that.  The important thing… he kept coming back home.

And it was a good thing.  Because I found myself needing attention too.  Being a golden retriever, I loved to eat… everything.  This one time, I found this thing in the ground.  It was so yummy, but soon after, my head started feeling funny.  Then my stomach.  Paul had to take me back to those people with the white coats again.  And just like Paul, I came home.  Every time.  You see, I kept on doing it.  They were so yummy.

We both got older, although I feel like I got older more quickly.  Of course, my backyard habit did not help every time I ate those things.  Paul and I hung around the house a lot more than we used to.  I guess we each had our own reason.  I was happy to just sit next to him, or on him, and have him scratch my ears.  I really loved that.

We kept taking turns going away.  Paul seemed to do it a lot more, but he always came home to me.  He needed me.  He could depend on me.  And I could depend on him.

There came a time when things got really quiet in our house.  It was also more dark inside the house and outside.  Paul turned on lights making it brighter for him, but the funny thing was, it did not get brighter for me.  I could not get up the stairs anymore, so Paul made sure I had a comfy place to sleep downstairs not just occasionally, but all the time!  He always took great care of me.

One morning, Paul came downstairs right on time to let me outside.  He caught me by surprise, but I knew it was him.  I could feel it.  I stood up, stretched.  He opened up the door.  But I did not move.  I could not.  Just then, I felt myself being lifted… but in such a way that I felt as if I was being tightly hugged.  I could not see him, hear him, or smell him.  But I knew it was Paul.  We always took care of each other.  He always knew what to do.  I liked when he hugged me so tight.  But all I wanted to do now, was run again.  Now I can.  Paul made sure of that, just like he promised.

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