By Jamie Kahn
Sometimes I think about how much I would like to be a dog. Specifically, when I'm sick or hurt, and when I feel like I might die. I wish I could become a dog a little bit before I actually do die. Maybe for just my last few days or even a week.
When people love something, their friends and family try to surround them with it as they're about to die. And I think that more than anything, this would make me sad rather than blissful. I love sunflowers but if I was laying in a hospital bed surrounded by them, waiting for my end, I would know every time I smelled or touched one of them, that they existed as a parting gift. I would understand that the sunflowers were only in my presence as a way to make me die smiling, not because they grew around me. I would wonder each time I stopped touching one, or each time I fell asleep if this one would be my very last sunflower. There would be too much emphasis on enjoying them that I simply would not be able to enjoy them.
My dog though, Rocco, didn't go like that. He was thirteen, which was old for a big, floppy-eared, fat-yet-happy dog. And he loved going on car rides more than anything. When my family knew he was about to go, we started taking him in the car a little more frequently. We put the top down in my dad's silver convertible even in the middle of winter to make his vet trips a little brighter. He didn't know why though. I mean, that's not to say animals can't feel when they're getting old and dying, because they can and I know that. But what I mean is that they don't know the reason why they get to go in the car more often on why they get to have their favorite treat every day now. They just know that they're getting more of what they love. And when we had to put Rocco down, he was happy as ever on the way to the vet. It was just like any old car ride. He didn't know it was his last and that's what made it so good. He was smiling and wagging his tail until the end because he didn't even know the end was coming. That's what I want for myself. That's what I want for every good person, and for every dog and cat and bird and hamster.
And if I can't be a dog for my last moments on earth, maybe a sudden death is the best kind of death. I don't want to know which sunflower is my last sunflower or which kiss is my last kiss or which cookie is my last cookie. I want them to just be a sunflower and a kiss and a cookie. I want to be smiling and wagging my tail until the end because I don't even know the end is coming, even if I have to die as a regular human like everybody else.
Jamie Kahn is a writer and undergraduate student. Her work has been featured in Maudlin House, Lady! Magazine, The Unrorean, Yellow Chair Review, Fish Food Magazine, and Donut Factory Press. She has also written for Thought Catalog and Germ Magazine, and co-hosts The Everything Bagel podcast.