“The vet,” said the technician, “won’t be here for an hour.”
I nodded and wiped away enough tears to find the line where I needed to sign.
She petted Molly as I handed the pen and clipboard back to her. Molly’s head lay across my lap, her tired old body resting on a cushion on the floor.
We had an hour left. Molly didn’t know that, or maybe she did. She was still, aside from the occasional hint of a tail wag. From time to time she raised her head off my lap and looked up, perhaps wondering what was happening, or maybe making sure I was okay.
I sat there, on the floor, remembering all of the visits to this room, back when Molly thought visiting the vet was the most exciting excursion ever. She’d race around the room, checking out all the good smells, and she’d run toward the door every time she heard a noise in the hall, hoping it was her vet with a handful of treats.
But this time she just waited quietly, not moving anything other than her head and tail from time to time.
I smoothed the fur on her back, petting her gently, not wanting to cause more pain. Talking to her through my tears, reminding her of the time she jumped up at the dining room table and took a bite out of a 50th wedding anniversary cake, and the day she ate straight through a cellophane wrapped cardboard box full of chocolates. Most of Molly’s indiscretions involved food- like all good Labs, she never turned down a meal- free or otherwise.
The hour passed, and the vet came in and kneeled down beside us. “Have you ever been through this with a pet before?” she asked. I shook my head and the tears started coming harder. She quietly explained what to expect, that it would be quick and Molly would not feel anything. She would go to sleep before her heart stopped.
“This is really hard,” I managed.
“Yes,” she replied.
We gave Molly some treats, which she gladly ate, maybe remembering that those were her favorite thing about coming to that room. And as I petted her, her head grew heavy, her eyes closed and she was gone.