Looking for something else, I came upon this photo collection from May 24, 2008, on Battell Mountain in Ripton, just a couple of weeks before Gilgamesh’s accident that so changed his life and his physical realities (even as his recovery was astonishing).
How black he is! Just the splashes of a few white hairs on his chest and chin, barely visible, there since birth: in the two weeks after his accident, his whole chin went white, from pain. We both went into physical therapy, gradual recovery. It took a long time. Neither of us was ever the same.
How huge he is! 77 pounds of youthful, athletic muscle, strong from mountain hikes and still fearless, still invincible, still convinced of his immortality in such terrifying ways (“don’t jump off that – ! Gilly, don’t – oh, man, you’re trying to give me a heart attack”).
How clear his eyes, free of retinal clouding; how white his teeth—how thin he seems now, kept at 65-70 pounds to ease his arthritis. How comparatively cautious he is, easing my daily terrors of what insane Jackie Chan move he’s going to pull next, but his maturity and sense somehow still a loss of a kind.
Yesterday: a few stumbles, joints not quite doing what he asked of them at times, but still: a walk in the woods, some rock-clambering, some cheese samples at the Vermont Country Store, some game of “zombie momma is coming for to eat your braaaaiiiinnnnnssss,” much happiness.
Half blind. Aching sometimes. More fragile. More frail. So much more vulnerable.
Today: sausage samples from the diner, a game of chase-around-the-tree in the park after a Very Important Dog walk in town, some stupid jokes in the midst of a game of tag, a walk to the Post Office and a cavort & careful roughhouse with a crack-headed puppy all joy and no sense just as Gilly once was.
So hard to track, sometimes, what is sad and what is not.
Today, Gilgamesh is clearly in his prime.
That day in May 2008, seven years old, Gilgamesh was clearly in his prime.
Tomorrow, there is no doubt: Gilly will be in his prime.