The sounds of footsteps in the kitchen and heavy sighing awaken me. I jump up knowing I am needed. I can barely make out his outline in the darkness, but he is there standing near the counter.
“Are you thirsty? Do you want some water?”
His only reply is a steady gaze as if I am not there and I have not spoken.
“Let me help you back to bed.”
I gently nudge and guide him back to the comforting smells of his blanket and bed. I wait until he is lying down, but I don’t leave quite yet. I smooth back his hair and kiss his head over and over. “I’m here. I love you. You are not alone.” I sit in the chair next to his bed, waiting for his anxious breathing to relax again. Then I quietly slip back to my own bed, knowing I will be up again. It may be in 20 minutes, or it may be in 2 hours.
I picture him as he was just a few years back. He had energy, he lit up my heart with his smiles, and he slept through the night. Isn’t it something when you think about the ways in which living creatures are similar at opposite ends of their lives? Of course I wasn’t there when he was not sleeping through the night back in his earliest years, but I’m here now. And when I think through all of the sweet moments in which he has shown me he loved me, I find that this is a simple way to give back. Even though I don’t get enough sleep most nights.
When I find him standing in the bathroom mumbling at the shower, how can I be anything but loving? When he turns to walk into the kitchen, but misjudges the doorway and walks into the wall instead, I am there. Sure I chuckle when I see he is not hurt, but then I hug him and rub the spot that hit first. When we have been outside and are on our way back in, I gently guide him around the parked cars and quietly whisper, “The house is this way. The door is over here.”
I love him. I fell in love with him on the long ride home from the breeders. He had been rejected by a previous family, but that didn’t deter us. He was so scared in his new kennel that he wet the brand new pillow my son bought him. When we freed him from that kennel, he licked our faces. That was all it took! Sumo was a full fledged member of our family.
For now this is what our relationship looks like. Whatever I can do to ease his confused mind and unseeing eyes, I will do.