I first tried it in the Pet ER
I had a routine that anchored me during the extended time Tovi was hospitalized. The hospital offered a Keurig machine and a large selection of K-Cups on a shelf in the waiting area to accommodate pet owners in fragile states who were anxiously waiting — often for long periods of time — for any update on their pet.
While I waited for a vet tech to bring him out during my morning visits, I brewed a desperately needed cup of coffee to conceal my exhaustion from yet another sleepless night. I still remember the sound the Keurig made when I pushed the lever to the brew position. The drink emerged a steady stream of dark liquid until the cup was almost full and then slowed down, making a swishing sound when it was complete. The last few drops splashing into the cup, like pennies being thrown into a wishing well. I always made the same wish when the last drop fell: That he would live another day. The same routine transpired during our evening visits, only with hot chocolate or apple cider-flavored K-Cups.
As his discharge approached, I went to Walmart to pick up supplies for his transition back home,
only now as a disabled dog. An air mattress so I could sleep downstairs with him. Syringes for the feeding tube he would be sent home on. Pee-pads and boys white Hanes T-shirts for the makeshift wrap I would fabricate to absorb the leakage that remained from complications of his abdominal surgery. Yoga mats to line the floor because his gait was unsteady after the stroke he suffered under anesthesia. Cozy fleece blankets to pad his dog bed — the one I splurged on right before his surgery and assured him he would get well in. And a Keurig machine.
While maneuvering a shopping cart with a broken wheel — that I didn’t have the energy to trade in — between the aisles, I passed a display stacked high with Keurig machines. Above it was a large bright sign that read, “ROLLBACK,” Walmart’s version of a lottery win, and serendipitously in my eye’s sight at the perfect time. It wasn’t something my frugal self would normally purchase, but I thought of the thousands of dollars I had spent on Tovi’s care over the past few weeks and wrote it off in my head as an expense in that category. I wanted the routine to continue at home; something about sipping a hot drink made by a familiar machine calmed my frantic mind during that cold winter. I held onto any routine in the midst of the real-life nightmare I was living.
Despite my best efforts, he couldn’t survive at home and died a few days after his discharge. I’m reminded of him every morning when I brew my coffee; it’s bittersweet. I feel both a pain that has numbed with time, juxtapositioned with a smile on my face remembering the dog I loved more than anything.
As for the wishes, I stopped making them a long time ago.
Written by Elizabeth Weiner