I’m doing much better. I still have moments where I’ll be watching TV or talking on the phone or washing dishes or whatever and my breath will catch in my throat and/or I’ll get a little verklempt when my thoughts suddenly turn to Shadow. But all in all, I’m not near the wet rag I was in the days leading up to and after I decided to have her laid to rest.

I even managed to mostly keep my cool while scrolling through the past week’s timelapse file from my front steps cam and coming upon the following image.

On the surface it’s me carrying an extra-large file archives box down to the street on January 16, 2012 at 12:03:53 p.m. But instead of papers inside the container was Shadow’s body and I was bearing it to the vehicle of the veterinarian who had just euthanized her for him to transport for cremation.

After she passed at twelve o’clock high, the vet said he had a stretcher that he could go get to transfer her to his car, but I told him I had a box that would hold her and asked if it was OK if I spent a couple minutes alone with her and brought her down myself. He said sure and excused himself, leaving the two of us alone.

I stroked her forehead and her flank and I told her how much I would miss her and how much she was so very loved by everyone who knew her. Of course, I was a wreck during this farewell, but was also struck with a relief that seemed to come out of nowhere. Relief that it was done. Relief that her suffering was over. Relief that she looked so peaceful. Relief that I had been by her side at the end.

Then I gave her a kiss on the head and sucked in the emotions, wiping my face as I stood. Exhaling hard a few times, I retrieved the box from the study where Ranger dutifully and quietly waited in the club chair for permission to come out. I told her what a good girl she was and that we were almost done and I closed the door behind me.

Coming back to Shadow in the foyer I lifted her into my arms. She was so light — veritably (forgive the pun) a shadow of her living self. As if death took with it a burdensome weight. Laying her down into the box gently I took moments to arrange her head and her legs. I repositioned her tail from beneath her hip. Then I closed the box and stood up with it and walked her out of our house for the last time.