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Tess C

Page history last edited by tcotter 12 years, 8 months ago

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Lost to the Summer

By: Tess Cotter

      I sat on the brick wall, kicking my feet as I waited for the silver car to drive up and take me home. I leaned my head on the tree. It's the second Monday of 9th grade, and I’m already tired. My mom had dropped my brother off at Foothills for his driving class and then drove  home to make dinner. I stayed because I didn’t feel like going home. It was crowded for a Monday night. The band was practicing on the field and sports try-outs were going on. A tall girl with long black hair walked up and sat on the wall next to me.  I knew she was my brother‘s friend, but I had barely ever spoken to her.  She sat smiling, talkative as I had ever seen her, rambling on about her summer, her trip to Japan and how she went hiking down into the Grand Canyon. I really appreciated her non-stop talking. It gave me a chance to just sit there. She looked up, noticing I hadn’t responded to anything she was saying. “How was your summer? Anything exciting?” I nodded. I sat thinking but barely responding to anything she had said. I  didn’t know what to say.  I thought back, trying to remember something to say about my summer. I suppose generic answers are always best. “ It went by fast.”

      Three weeks ago, I woke up early one morning to the sound of dogs barking and lapping up water from their water dish. They sprinted up to me, eager to scratch at my legs to tell me they wanted to be pet. I bent over to say goodbye, only to have a little dog begin to chew on my hair. Sugar stuck her cold nose in my ear and looked at me with her big, sad brown eyes while Reka’s tail whipped against my leg. I turned away from them to watch my friend's green minivan drive up the driveway. Dragging my suitcase behind me, I got into my friend’s car to drive to the airport. Worrying I had packed too much, we opened the trunk of the car to put my backpack and suitcase with Jane’s. When I saw her black suitcase about twice the size of mine I was really glad I was traveling with her rather than anyone else. About 2 hours later we got picked up  from the San Diego airport. The rest of the trip went by pretty fast. Disneyland, going to the beach, riding on a boat, and accidentally killing a jellyfish (I’m so sorry little guy) was pretty exciting. I got on the plane knowing I would miss the ocean breeze and the smell of seaweed in the air. This trip, this was before.

       As the plane landed, I dreaded the hot desert breeze and the smell of melting tire rubber and gasoline. My mom was waiting at the gate with a giant cookie and a teddy bear for me. I hadn’t really talked to her that week. I missed her and was hoping she would tell me everything I missed, which knowing my family was probably a lot, but she was quiet. In the car we sat talking. “ How was your trip?” “It was great. When we go back in few weeks we have to go to this amazing breakfast place.” “O.K.” I could tell something was wrong. My mom could usually make anyone feel better. When I got home, she usually would welcome me home as if I had been gone for a year, but now she looked too sad and tired for even a simple conversation. It made me uneasy. When I got home from the airport, that was the beginning of after.

      When I got home, it looked just like it had. I hadn’t expected anything to change. My brother sat in the living-room on his computer, my dad was at work, and there was some kind of food ready, waiting on the counter. It was a spitting image of the way I had left it. As I looked around and smiled at the familiar setting,  Pippi ran up to me, barking. Her yippy, high-pitched barked pierced my eardrums. Sugar walked slowly up behind her. Her head was tilted to one side, and I couldn’t tell if she was looking at me or her neck wasn’t strong enough to hold her head. Her eyes were a little glazed over. I called her name, but I don’t think she could hear me. Later, I found out she had had a stroke about three days into my trip. She didn’t seem the same. I felt like she didn’t know who I was anymore. She was laying in the kitchen, when I realized I hadn’t seen Reka even though an hour had passed since I had gotten home. She would usually be laying outside in the sun, but I found her in the corner of my bedroom. When I saw her I stopped. Her face and head were swollen. I had never seen anything like it, and it scared me. I had been gone for five days, and the dog I had know for twelve years was already almost unrecognizable. My black dogs face had turned red and puffy. She looked miserable, worse than she had when she was bitten by a rattlesnake. Everything happened in the five days I was gone. I didn’t know that when I left it would be the last time Sugar was herself and the last time Reka was recognizable.

       The next day we drove to the vet. My mom and dad said they were sure it was an infection or a bite. I expected the worst. I was scared of losing her and of seeing her like this. After antibiotics had failed to work, a tall blond woman in a white coat recommended that she have a biopsy so they could find out if there was any way it could be treated. “ I think she needs the biopsy dad.” He sat in front of  me in the drivers seat focused on the road. He hesitated,” Do you want to put her through that? What she has is spreading so fast….Wouldn’t it be better if the last few weeks, if that’s what they are, aren‘t painful?” I didn’t respond. There was nothing to say.  

      My mom and brother agreed with me. That Thursday we had her hop in the car and lay in the back seat as we drove. I didn’t want to be there. I don’t know if I’ll stop resenting myself for not wanting to be the one to walk her into the operating room. I was terrified she’d think of me as the person who was trying to hurt her, not understanding I was trying to help her.

       My dad got home early from work so he would be able to be there when we picked her up. Reka loved my dad more than anyone no matter how hard my brother tried to change that. She’d sit next to him whenever he was home and wag her tail whenever see saw him. I didn’t have that connection with her. To her, I think I was always the little girl would called her Weka and held on to her, sometimes trying to put her in my Dr. Seuss hat or trying to dress her up as a pig for Halloween. My brother got her when I was thirteen-months old and since then she was always there. When I got home from soccer practice or a friends house she would be laying on the tile or standing in the kitchen. For the first time, that I can remember, I was home for a day and she wasn’t. She was there my entire life, like a part of my family, someone always there when I was home, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the house was so empty. The day we waited to pick her up was the quietest and one of the longest I can remember, and even as when we picked her up it didn’t change. Maybe it was because I knew I was losing her or maybe it was because she hadn’t really been all there for a few weeks now, but just seeing her made me want to cry.  

      Five days later when I was at the Eclipse premiere with Emory, my mom called to tell me the results of Reka’s biopsy. Stage four malignant melanoma was just an indirect way of saying she was going to die. After that it was just like we were waiting, waiting for reality to finally sink in. Every morning I would wake up and she would look slightly worse than she had the night before. In a few weeks, she was covered with tumors and  nearly bald, but somehow cheerful. Whether it just seemed that way, or the pain meds were extremely powerful, she seemed content. When it came down to it, all I wanted to do each day this summer was take care of her. Each day I realized more what I actually cared about. 

      When the time for our family vacation rolled around, she was looking much worse but still seemed to have that happy displacement. All we could talk about was whether or not to go. It was too late to refund the hotel, but I think we were all afraid that if we left she wouldn’t  be here when we got back. “I’ll stay at the house and take good care of her. Don’t worry,” said my cousin. Trusting her, we went on a four day vacation.

      It was hard for everyone to relax when we felt like we were leaving behind someone who needed us. It was a quiet drive to California. I think most of us were regretting going. I had never thought about each thing I do so thoroughly before.

      Each day we would call home, or at least my mom would, not saying how Reka was. I guess that was answer enough. The day Emory came to the Del was the only day I had been able to forget about what was going on for a little while. It was the last day of our trip and the last day before I realized that this was real. I knew she was sick, I had seen sick people, sick animals before, but I had never had to watch someone get slowly sicker everyday and not be able to change anything.

      When we got back from California we realized we had to make a decision. I can’t describe what she was like when we got back, but it was also the day we had to decide if we were going to make her keep living like this. I know it was to put her out of her misery but I feel like I didn’t want to choose whether it was time or not. I’ve blocked it out. I don’t want to know who decided to put her to sleep, but the next day was the last day I ever saw her.

      “ Are you sure?” the white-coat lady asked. My dad nodded. We were in this little room with a tiny waterfall outside the sliding glass door. A big couch was along the wall and there were tissues boxes in every corner. It smelled of Lysol and flowers, and a big rug way lay across the middle of the floor. It reminded me of a hotel room, with its  patio and paintings lining the wall. The vet came back from putting an IV in Reka’s leg. The rest was a blur. My dad stood in the corner. My mom and I were crying, looking out the window and the vet stood up. I remember her saying. “ I’m so sorry but this totally sucks.” Alright, there’s the vet for you, but somehow it made me feel better. The worst was over. She continued talking saying this was the fastest spreading cancer she had ever seen filling the silence with her words.

      A month later I started school and everyone had gone from being sad to saying she was in a better place now and every clichéd thing you could think of. You never forget when you see someone you love disappear. All you can do is appreciate what they did for you and every good thing life gives you. I sat in my room writing when I heard a thud behind me. My dog, Sugar, had fallen over. Later, everyone explained her back legs had given out and she had had another stroke. I sat next to her, amazed when she was able to push herself up again when she hear my dad making food in the kitchen. The pop -pop -popping of popcorn in the kitchen had caused her ears to perk up.  I worried to much she was going to be fine. If she could get up and go to the kitchen to eat her favorite food, she was going to be fine.  I turned up the music in my room and tried to sleep, and by the next morning Sugar seemed back to normal. As normal as she had been since we lost Reka. I pet her back as I ran out the door for the second day of school.

      Tired, from a long day, I sat on the brick wall kicking my feet as I waited for the silver car to drive up and take me home. It pulled up and my mom opened the door. Pippi, the youngest of my dogs, lay on the seats in the back of the car. My mom’s eyes were watery as she grabbed my backpack and put it in the back seat. “Sophie…,” she said. I didn’t want to hear anymore. I crawled into the car holding Pippi, whose weepy eyes said she was the only dog of the three left.


Comments (10)

jsayles said

at 9:58 am on Sep 10, 2010

I loved your story even though it was very sad, I loved the details and how you set up the plot.
Hope your ok. -JS

Sierra Decker said

at 5:24 pm on Sep 20, 2010

I really liked the way you said a lot about sugar's passing without telling the whole story. You described your emotions really well and I really started to understand how you felt :(

hkarnas said

at 12:07 pm on Sep 21, 2010

Tess, i really loved your story. Im really sorry about Sugar and reka :( I really liked how you set up the story plot and the details you described everything perfectly.

clee said

at 2:24 pm on Sep 21, 2010

Hey Tess,
I loved your story, not because of the topic itself, but because it was very well written. It was able to really help me feel the way you felt, and I could totally connect to your story because I too have "lost" a dog. (Actually, we gave it away, but it's pretty much the same thing because you can't ever see them again...)
It was very descriptive, and everything was very organized.

rafeldt said

at 5:15 pm on Sep 21, 2010

i liked how you described your emotions and how you set up the story

Jodi said

at 8:18 pm on Sep 21, 2010

Your story was really well written. You used details, and you organized the plot very well. All of these things helped me understand how much you loved and cared for your dogs.

gchavez-gehrig said

at 8:41 pm on Sep 21, 2010

Losing 2 dogs in one summer. Man, that's rough. It's bad enough losing one.

pmaguire@stgregoryschool.org said

at 9:19 pm on Sep 21, 2010

I really liked your story. It had nice emotions and the story flowed really well.

Cwatters said

at 10:57 pm on Sep 21, 2010

I adore your writing. Of course, I feel really weird saying this, since the topic certainly isn't a cheery one, but the way you conveyed all of the emotions in such an organized, cohesive and delightfully easy flow, made your essay wonderful. As always, amazing work. (: I'm sorry for your tragic loss.

mgoodman said

at 11:29 pm on Sep 21, 2010

Tess! Your story is amazing. It was so sad and really descriptive. You did a great job describing how it made you feel and how much your dogs meant to you. I really liked it! Good job!

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