Yesterday marked four weeks to the day since Mina died. I suppose from here on out I’ll have to use the 9th as the appropriate date for marking such memories. I’m going to burn a candle from now on the the 9th of every month, until I feel it’s time to burn it every year. It’s a Jewish custom that my Dad told me about and I quite like it. Not that I need anything to remind me of Mina, I keep finding things and going places that do that for me.

Just the other day I was putting away dishes in the strainer that had been there since before she died. I found the ceramic bowl I used to put her food in so she didn’t have to eat from metal bowls while she was in chemo. My friend Jill told me that chemo drugs often leave a metallic taste in human’s mouths and it might help Mina’s appetite not to use metal. I’ll put that bowl aside because I don’t want to use it any longer. It was Mina’s.

Then I was in the laundry room getting Mina’s medication bottles out of the household hazardous waste bag when I found more “remnants” of her life. There were empty tubes of K9 Advantix and expired meds. I left the expired meds and took the good ones out for the sanctuary. Terry said they could use some of them for the other animals. I also found Mina’s brush on that shelf and put it aside with the bowl. It still has quite a bit of her hair in it, although I can’t remember the last time I brushed her. Mina wasn’t terribly fond or that activity.

Under the bathroom sink there’s a little section of Mina’s things that I haven’t touched. It includes a bottle of iodine, a box of Epsom salts and a Lactaid Ringers bag – all used to sooth her paws when she’d lick them until they were bloody, or when she nicked some skin off one of her paw pads. She didn’t like having her foot soaked in a bag filled with warm water, Epsom salts and iodine but she tolerated it for a couple of minutes.

I also found her bottle of herbal ear remedy and a bag of organic cotton balls. Mina was sometimes prone to ear infections, although she never had another one after she started chemotherapy. I still put the herbal drops in her ears after she was groomed, though, just in case.

Mina kept her toys mostly in the living room, so they’re all under the coffee table where she left them. I sleep with her Vermont “man” toy and I cherish the ring of dirt around the middle where she squeezed it to make the squeaker sound. She loved toys with squeakers in them. Sometimes she’d grab one and start squeaking it and I’d grab another and we’d have a little squeaker symphony together. I think it was funny only to Mina and I.

Then there’s the trip to Atlanta and home to Dad’s after Christmas when I’ll revisit friends at their home where Mina has visited at least three times with me. Going to Dad’s will be a little sad because I haven’t been there without Mina since 1998. She was always a welcome house guest, even after having a bout of diarrhea in the family room on our last visit in May, 2008. I was never sure if it was something she ate off the ground, or if she was anxious about something that trip. I did leave her with a petsitter one day to attend an event at a wildlife sanctuary, and I left her at home with Dad the following day to visit the Center for Great Apes. Maybe that was it? Dad and I scrubbed that carpet for three days and left white spots where he used some oxi-clean stuff on them. Dad wasn’t upset with Mina in the least, maybe because I was so worried about her.

Mina, resting at Dad's on one of our trips

Eventually, maybe in a few years, I’ll have revisited places we’ve been together (although not all of them – we were pretty mobile) and things we’ve done together at least once. It will always be sad for me to see these places or do these things without Mina. Living my life without her for four weeks has proven harder than I ever imagined anything could be.

My sweet angel baby, keep leaving your hairs for me to find and please visit me. I miss you so much …