Foolish Promises . . .
The year her father-in-law died was also the same year, their family dog, Skittles passed away. Dad was 90 years old when he passed. He'd lived a long, full, and sometimes difficult life. He'd celebrated countless births, marriages, and milestones. He'd also witnessed multiple deaths, disturbances, disorders, and disasters. She thought Providence had granted her family enough notice so that they could let him go without the usual cacophony of grief that surrounds the death of a family member.
What she’d failed to account for was that Yamdoot, the Indian God of Death doesn’t choose a time and place convenient for its victims when He comes calling. As Dad lay dying of old age and organ failure, their beloved white Westie Terrier, seven-year-old Skittles began to heave his last breaths.
“Don’t die. Please don’t die,” she hissed at Skittles.
Her 18-year-old daughter who adored both her dog and her grandfather was leaving for college in just a couple of months. "Give us just three more months with Skittles. Let Pooja go away to college." Every day, she pleaded with God.
She made Dr. Faustus-like pacts with the Universe, "If you let Skittles live until Pooja goes away to college, I'll give up chocolate for life. Okay, okay, if that's not enough, I'll never have sex again. Or, at least, I'll never indulge in sexual fantasies again!" A guilty shiver made her toes curl even as she said that.
Just last night, in an effort to summon some interest in intercourse, she'd conjured up a fantasy involving Brad Pitt and herself, some fur shackles and a leather whip. While the details were fuzzy in the glaring light of the morning, there was a lot of "Yes, mistress," and "Oooooh, touch me here, oh yeah!" that she recalled. Who knew Brad Pitt sounded so sexy and submissive when saying "Oui, oui" to a lingerie-clad, whip-yielding, brown-colored dominatrix?
It's no wonder her entreaties fell on deaf ears. Even she knew she couldn't keep any of those promises she was making to an ungodly Messiah.
At about the same time she got the dreaded phone call that Dad had just a few hours to live, she found Skittles prone on the tile-lined bathroom floor where he'd crawled to allow his shuddering belly the coolness it craved. Six months prior, Skittles had been diagnosed with Whipple disease, a medical condition where the food bypasses the small intestine and instead enters the bloodstream through the kidneys. For the last seven years, Skittles had lived with this unnatural paroxysm, defying nature and science to be a soft fluffy ball of joy for their household. But when his stomach contracted an infection, his over-loaded kidneys began to fail.
Dr. Severance, their vet, put him on a liquid diet that would ease the strain on his digestive system. "He may die at any time," Dr. Severance was somber in his verdict.
"But you said he should not have survived even six months with his condition and yet he lived seven years," she rasped. She looked Dr. Severance in the eye, challenging him to disagree with her.
Dr. Severance combed his fingers through his hair and glanced away. "That's true. You never know."
And so, every day and every night, she continued to bargain with a Higher Power. "I'll give up Facebook or texting during dinner or red wine."
In the end, both Dad and Skittles went the same day. She likes to think now they're looking down on them; Dad with his wrinkled arm wrapped around Skittles, Skittles' tail thumping like the bristles on a gas station car wash. They're grinning at her foolishness as if to say, "No promise can stop time. Bring you back. Or, make the clouds move quickly or slowly in the sky."