I want to tell you a story. I’ll start by introducing myself. I have a lot of names; when we wake up my name is “Good-Morning-Cisco”, when her heart beats too fast my name is “Cisco-I-Need-You”, when she cries and I hug her my name is “Thank-You-Cisco”, before she falls asleep my name is “Cisco-I-Love-You”. I have a lot of names, but I think my real name is just “Cisco”.
The instant my eyes opened this morning I knew it; I wouldn’t be a puppy today.
She was still asleep. But I could feel it. Her breathing was stressed. She didn’t look comfortable. It was time for me to go to work. I got as close to her as I could; my face by hers and my paw on her chest. She knew I was there. She didn’t open her eyes. But I could tell. She wrapped both arms around me. Her breathing became relaxed. I snuggled closer. Pressing my weight into her body.
The sun was already up. I could feel it shining through the window. That means she should be awake. But she is finally asleep. Finally. So I’ll let her stay like that for a little longer. I watch the world move outside the window as she sleeps. The sun continues rising.
It’s time for her to wake up. I kiss her nose. I nudge her with my nose. Her eyes open. Her eyes look so heavy and burdened. But she looks at me and everything softens. My name is “Hello-Cisco”. She smiles.
I nudged her again to let her know it was time to get up. She gives me a gigantic hug. Life is wonderful.
She reached over me and picked up her phone. Her phone makes her sad just as often as it makes her happy. I still don’t know how I feel about her phone. My name is “Cisco-It’s-Already-Ten-O-Clock”.
She hugged me again. I felt joy. I love it when she hugs me. But then I felt sad because I could feel all of her pain. She carries so much pain. It all feels so heavy. I knew I wouldn’t be a puppy today.
She was awake now. But it was taking her a very long time to get up. We rested in bed. Just looking at each other. She cried. I comforted her. She just needed me to be there. To let her know she wasn’t alone.
I remember when he left for work this morning. He looked me in the eyes and said “I’ve gotta go now Cisco. You take care of her today. Don’t let the depression get too strong. Make her go outside.” I looked at him. I wanted to say; “I will. I will fight the depression. I will help her smile. I will lead her outside into the sun. I will make you proud. I will show her I love her”. But I just sit at his feet and wag my tail. He knows what I mean. He smiled at me, and he left.
She is out of bed now.
There is a lot that I don’t understand. But I understand one thing completely – my job. My job is to love her. My job is to show her that she isn’t alone. My job is to be there when she cries. My job is to help her calm down when she panics. Or when anxiety takes over. My job is to intervene when she tries to pick at her skin. And she tries to pick at her skin a lot.
Perfect example, she is about to pick her skin right now. I can tell. I tap her with my paw to let her know I’m watching. She picks anyway. I don’t think she can control it. But I know it’s my job to make her stop. I stand on my back paws and put my front paws on her hands. I pull her hands toward me. I make her pet me. I don’t give up. I’m “resilient”. She uses that word a lot. My name is “Sorry-Cisco-I-Didn’t-Realize-I-Was-Picking”. She seems so defeated. I stay close to her in case she needs me.
The rest of our day will be a lot like this. But not all days are like this. She always tells me that days like this “ebb and flow”. She says that a lot; “This tough day will ebb and flow, Cisco. Don’t worry. It won’t last long.” And she’s right. Days like this are always “temporary”. That’s another word she uses a lot.
So I’m okay with not being a puppy on a day like today.
Today I will be something more important. Today I will be the thing that makes her smile. Today I will be the thing that helps her go outside. Today I will be the thing that reminds her to drink water. Today I will be the thing that keeps her from giving into her obsessive compulsive disorder. I will be the thing that keeps her from picking at her skin. I will be the thing that helps her get through the day.
Today will be a good day.
Today we will go outside. The fresh air will make her feel better. I will sit beside her. I will roll around and play. But not for me, I’ll play because it makes her laugh.
Today she will hate herself. So it will be my job to love her. She will feel guilt and shame. She will be tough on herself because she hasn’t kept up with the chores. She will ignore phone calls. She probably won’t text people back. I’ll be glad that she’s not on her phone a lot. But I don’t want her to be lonely. So that will be my job today too. She won’t feel lonely today. I’ll see to it.
Today she will probably cry. I will feel her grief. I will feel how debilitating it all is. I will feel the weight of it all on her. So I must be heavier than all that weight. I will push it all off of her. It’s my job. I love my job. My job is important.
I will be there no matter what.
I won’t be a puppy today. I will be something else. I will be a caretaker. I will be a life raft. I will be a flashlight. I will be whatever she needs.