A very dear friend died just a few days ago. His death was not a surprise, coming at the end of a long and sad illness. His death is, in some terrible way, a good thing considering what had happened to his body and spirit. His death came, thankfully, only after we had one last time to say things to each other we both wanted to say and wanted to hear. His death, while not a surprise and coming only as it did after our chance to talk so openly and candidly to each other, his death leaves me shaken. But that’s not what this column is about.

My dear friend, Carl, did the same work I do and loved the animals as I do. However, life being what it is, sometimes itself as devastating as death, life has left Carl and Laura without an animal of their own for quite a while. On most of our many visits to see them these past months, Carolyn and I brought a much welcome Lola along with us. She came with us so often, in fact, that she grew to recognize where we were as we neared their street in San Francisco, running up the stairs (a whole lot of stairs for those little legs) excited to see her friends. I know that Lola, the gift of her silly sweetness, is among those few things that brought Carl, and Laura, real joy these past few months.

Weak from surgery and drugs, Carl could still toss a knotted sock and watch Lola turn that into a happy, excited game. Thin beyond recognition (Laura sadly joked that Carl’s previously Rubenesque figure was long gone), Carl still came to our Thanksgiving dinner and sat happily on the most comfortable chair with a most comfortable Lola (and also Freeway and Panda, the other dog guests for the evening). I sent Carl and Laura frequent texts with pictures of Lola: Lola playing, Lola asleep, Lola on a particularly bad hair day, Lola smiling broadly from one silly ear to the other, happy for life and every moment she has in it. All of us will miss him.


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