Ebbs and Flows


I wake up to my mom resting her hand on my shoulder.

“Garrison, you need to get up and come downstairs right away.” 

Immediately, millions of things rush through my mind as to what could be happening. The house is being repossessed. Someone stole my truck. Breaking Bad was just taken off Netflix. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good. 

“Okay, what’s wrong? What’s going on?” “It’s Ali.” 

Oh no.

I jump out of my bed, throw on the first outfit I see and sprint downstairs.

Not yet. Please, not yet.

I round the corner of the stairs and look out into the living room. In the brown leather chair, she’s sprawled on her back, unmoving, all of her paws facing up. I run over to her and try to pick her up. She lets out a shrill yelp and I set her back down.

“Don’t pick her up, she’s in a lot of pain.” 

Gently, I hold her body and look into her eyes. She’s hurting really bad. 

“It’s okay, it’s alright, Ali. I’m here.”

Tears drip down onto her body as I hold her close.

“I’m here.”




It was 2010 that Ali was adopted. A black mini Schnauzer with floppy ears and chocolate eyes. Throughout the years, she grew from a cotton ball to a foot-tall, slightly larger cotton ball. She grew into a tiny diva that chases geese four times her size. She deserves only the best, and she knows it. She was always there when it really mattered. Licking my face while I mourned my grandma’s death, lying by my feet at 4 a.m. during late-night study sessions — the type to be there where nobody else was. Every night, after an exhausting six-hour shift, she’s always sitting at the door, waiting for you.

In late 2018, she started fading. Every day, there would be dog vomit all over the house from her feeling so nauseous. When she wasn’t vomiting, she was constantly panting. After weeks of scans and tests, there was no clear reason for her change in behavior. After a month of uncertainty, we finally got an answer. Terminal kidney failure.




Medicine. Special food. Monitoring. These three barely kept  Ali alive.

They gave us four extra years with her. Four years that gradually became more painful for her, suppressed only by the medicine. We pretended that everything was fine, but reality wouldn’t change. Ali was a dead dog walking. From eighth grade to senior year, I mourned her death before it happened. Every day was tainted by her condition. There was always that nagging thought that the end was drawing closer with nothing I could do to save her. Every night, I begged for her to still be here the next morning, knowing that there was a chance she could be gone. When she went to the animal hospital this summer, we didn’t know how this was going to end. And we were terrified to find out.




Ali would come home from the animal hospital a week later. In an urn. The symptoms came fast and took her down faster. Saturday night, she was greeting me at the door as I came home from work. Monday morning, she was being put down. Ali’s life couldn’t go on forever. Over the last four years, I wasted time worrying about the end, when I should have loved and savored the days Ali had left. Life constantly changes, for better or worse. The only constant in life is death. We could try to stop the end all we want. We could waste our lives worrying about something we’re powerless to prevent. Or we could use the end to enjoy the present even more. So instead of dreading the end, why not savor the days we have?