The snow started to fall before we went to bed. If it had been rain it would have clattered loudly on the roof but it fell silently, glinting through the beam of the porch light and gathering in a thin veil on the deck, the kind that can be blown away with a sharp exhale of breath.
We talked late in the kitchen about Bear, talked about the practical things. Weirdly, talked about when might be “the time” with her lying right there, stretched out on her bed. Would she make it to Christmas? We wondered. What about her birthday, just a week away? Because the past couple of weeks had been difficult, she had changed markedly and we weren’t completely sure if it was because of her medication or if things were progressing. She was losing her balance all the time, walking into things, disappearing into dazes, it all seemed very much like she was over-medicated. But what if she wasn’t?
At about four in the morning I make my way down stairs to the kitchen. I awoke to the sound of Bear’s toenails clicking across the floor, as I do every night when she needs to go out for a pee. Snow blankets the sills and pushes up against the tall skinny windows that line the stairs. I squint out past the pool of light spilling from the window and see it is still snowing.
“Bear, it snowed lots!” I say to her in a half-whisper as she meets me at the bottom of the stairs. For a moment, around the lump in my throat that has been there for months, there is joy.
“I want Bear to see the snow,” Morgan had said during our conversation in the kitchen that night. It was something I had been thinking about as well in the last month as I watched her start to struggle a bit. She loves the snow and I just wanted her to get a chance to play in it again.
And here it is, piling up against the screen door so I have to lean my weight against it, snow ploughing ahead of it like a breaking wave. It gathers in drifts up the trunks of trees and clings to branches. It is magical and sad all at the same time, because it sort of feels like some big checklist we’re working through, ticking off the onward march of time.
The dogs return covered in snow. Murdoch barges in as usual and Bear waits for the way to be clear and then walks through the open door with confidence and I try not to get too excited.
It was just two days before in the wee hours of the morning when I pushed open the door to let her in that my heart broke as she stood there staring at the door, confused, trying to figure out how to get back inside.
That day we were advised to stop her second medication, the one we started a month ago after her latest seizure. Although the levels of medication did not test high in her system the vet did think there was concern over Bear’s reaction to it.
By the morning of the snow, Bear has missed three doses of medicine and she is starting to behave more like herself. She is more alive and playful, she doesn’t fall over or walk into things, she seems more alert, more present. She marches sure-footed through the snow, demands sticks be thrown, does not sink so quickly into such deep sleeps. It is a relief to have her back, even as the threat of another seizure looms now that she is on reduced medication.
But, in the meantime, there’s a birthday to celebrate. And there’s snow.