You left before I was ready.

Even though you engaged me in the process

and let me feel your last heartbeat

and never made of mess of your end.

I wasn’t ready.

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.

I hadn’t rubbed your ears enough

and listened to you groan

and lean into my hands with that silky ear fur.

I hadn’t climbed out of bed

in the middle of the night enough

and had to avoid stepping on you

because you slept just where I stepped.

I hadn’t coaxed you to come to the park

just a half block away

to watch you stoop to poop

and picked it up in a baggy

and tried to get you to walk around a bit

and had to give up when you hobbled

with your furry flag waving

back home to wait at the gate for me, enough.

And I hadn’t heard you groan in the middle of the night

as you shifted your old achy bones,

or recognized your bright eyed ‘look’

asking for food, enough.

And though our days of skiing powder

and watching you bound down the mountain

eyebrows dusted white,

snow balls collecting in your chest,

but not in your feet, thank God,

because you were made for snow,

were long gone.

I wasn’t finished running my fingers through

your magnificent coat,

or sticking my nose deep into your toes

to inhale your wild and woodsy essence,

or catching that knowing look back

over your shoulder

as you left the park to go home

checking to see that I would follow

because you loved me

and knew I would come

because I loved you

like only a man can love his best friend.

But you are gone now

and I’m up in the middle of a dark night

lonely and crying on my keyboard

trying to say goodbye,

knowing I never will,