Yesterday was spent waiting for the call. I loaded Bello on to the longhaul bike with the platform in the front. The panniers were stuffed with a blanket, coffee, a book and my journal. We headed to the biggest park with the plushest grass and the most potent dog turnout. It was an unusually hot and sunny Friday afternoon and once I laid down I couldn't get up. With one ear to the blanket I stared at Bello and let tears and sleep come as they pleased. Around us dogs of every age and shape performed carnival acrobatics in the sun.

I am Bello's parent. And I will use my mightiest powers to keep him safe and happy. I will shield him from every conceivable threat so that he will feel secure and grow old peacefully. But his death, whenever that may come, is not his enemy and should cease to be mine. What am I fighting and fearing and hating when I battle his death? It is as much a part of his precious life as his first breath.

And so even though the vet called to say that the mass is benign, and I performed Olympic splits across the room and screamed Benign! Benign! Benign! into Bello's face, I am trying to keep the day of his departure dear to me. And to love the last pinch of his life as I have the last eleven years.