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That Time My Dog Almost Died

Photograph by Twenty20

I just dropped my 75 pound, 13 year-old dog off at the vet. I don't mean that literally. He was actually carried in by a huge man.

In front of me a tall, thin woman who looked to be in her early eighties held on to the arm of her hired helper, who held the leash of a small dog. Older women and their small dogs: I felt smug for an instant, proud that I had always been a big dog kind of girl (now woman).

We all walked into the vet and then, once my dog was carried away, I started to cry. I don't like to cry in public. It's a sign of weakness.

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I heard the older woman and her helper behind me say, "Oh no." I appreciated their sympathy, and suddenly I missed my nanny. (OK, my kids' nanny.) She was always so much stronger than me. She'd boss around the movers in Spanish, since I had to go to the other room. Men moving furniture has always made me nervous. I'm neurotic that way.

I just watched "Cake" a few nights ago, starring Jennifer Aniston. I had low expectations. They were exceeded. In the film, she has a Latina woman drive her around, even drive her to Tijuana to buy the prescription pills she's addicted to.

I need someone like that.

Snap out of it.

I think of the strong women I admired as a child. Pillars in the communities I kept bouncing around. They dealt with loss, stress, and they had no paid help that's for sure. They did have a strong community. Did they just suck it up? A close friend from the Midwest, my barometer for normality, told me her mom was medicating a bit during a very difficult time for her when we were teens.

I'm vehemently against this notion that families only depend on each other. We need to depend on lots of people and extended family as well.

My dog could go on to live a few more years; it's not just about my dog, clearly. When I returned home a few minutes ago from the vet, I expected to see his big furry face in the window. But the house was quiet. "See? You wanted a quiet house, and you have it and now. And look, you are crying like an asshole," the internal monologue scolded.

I went to my closet, because I felt cold. I saw a poncho my friend Polly gave me. Polly died at 33 in a car crash. I put it over my head and imagined it was a hug from her.

I texted my other good friend, and said I couldn't make the meeting we were going to have that day about planning her husband's memorial service. I just wanted to get my dog out of the vet as soon as I could.

When I was a young teen I used to look at TeenVogue and wish I could be as cool as those thin models. I haven't looked at those magazines for years.

I search deeply lined, well-dressed faces of women with sparkles in their eyes. I know they have been through lots of life-and-death situations. I want to know how they still sparkle.

At 38, I just feel like I'm going to be taking on more of these situations, if I'm lucky enough to live a long life. I want to be the person that people call on. I want to console them.

I'm vehemently against this notion that families only depend on each other. We need to depend on lots of people and extended family as well.

Hundreds of years ago, I would probably be a grandma and half of my people would be dead by now, right? I mean, is it the Gap? Target? Everything clean, ironed, the fact that everything is positioned just right that's given me this false sense of control?

This is the gritty part of life.

Maybe I need to go to church.

These are new waters I'm treading. More frequent deaths, sagging necks.

This is really nothing compared to other people's problems. Eh, that's so girly of me. I have experienced loss. It's real loss, and I'm just wondering how do we do this and keep our strength and not lose our sense.

When I was a little girl I always dreamed of having a big dog. Seeing my big dog carried in like that made me know I'm a long way from being a little girl. I've been more comfortable being an adult.

These are new waters I'm treading. More frequent deaths, sagging necks.

I cried in the vet's parking lot to my husband and then busted out with, "And I think I need a tummy tuck." I knew it was partially to bring us back to the superficial for a second. But it was also due to me doing a plank in a sports bra this morning, my soft flesh doing things I don't want to describe.

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Whatever, OK, I think I'm off to buy him some dog toys and me some fake glasses, so if I cry at the memorial service of our good friend who passed away, perhaps my swollen eyes will be masked.

When I was 22 and had moved to Los Angeles, I bought a pair of fake glasses for interviews to make me look older.

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