On Saturday, we put Tia to sleep. (I thought I was okay with this, but somehow just typing it makes me want to close my eyes and just sit here for a moment in the quiet.) My family waited until I was able to be there.
There's never a question when the time comes; you just know. And seeing her sitting there in the dark on the bathroom floor, her head held perfectly still because the slightest movements made her choke and unable to breathe, I knew. We all did.
After, I was going to be the one to carry her body to the vet for cremation. There was something circular in that, for I had been the one to carry her home almost four years before. She was so small, just a little ball of pale fluff that I held against my chest with the palm of one hand. She'd just had a bath, her fur only towel-dried, and I could feel the warm dampness of her little puppy body as she pressed against my shirt. And as I watched her body slowly rolled in a blue towel, warm but lifeless, I realized it was that first memory I needed to keep. That memory, and all the ones like it.