I woke up early this morning, an hour earlier still than up “early,” in fact. My cats were engaged in a face off with the neighborhood dogs through my windowed door, and Sully, my talkative cat, came to tell me all about it. We then engaged in our easy morning routines–Little, my quiet cat, rubbing her face against my pillow, Sully pacing until there’s food in the bowl, Little making biscuits while I read, Sully laying out on her side with her head in some crazy contortion, looking more peaceful than I can ever imagine feeling. La dee dah, they followed me around as I brushed my teeth, ate breakfast (Sully has to sniff everything), and stared at me as I wheeled the bike out (to dog territory) and headed to work. Right now, as I type, Sully’s sitting next to me on the couch, alternately grooming and tracking the lizard scampering across the window, and Little’s huffing catnip out of the scratcher. Life with animals is so mundane, and it’s precisely that daily mundane life that makes it so hard when our animals get sick and die. And I knew today was that day for Betsy, my good friend N.’s dog for 16 years. After school I rode my bike to their house, packed them into N.’s car, and we went to the vet to say goodbye. It was so, so sad. While driving back, N. talked about how we all know what it means to get a pet. We know how easy it is to love them so hard (especially since they always love us back, no matter what, we tell ourselves), and we also know that for all of us, this day will come, where we’ll have to let them go and utterly remake our days. And yet we make these same choices over and over again, without question. As I was pedaling home after a night of football and pizza on N.’s couch–one in a long, long line of nights just like that, and pretty much the only sort of night you can have after a day like today–I took note of how much has changed on the bike ride between our houses, a ride I’ve taken hundreds of times, literally. The playground is completely new, that trailer over on Laurel and Cadiz is still there, Mardi Gras beads are still hanging from the windows of that halfway house on Laurel and Napoleon. That house is rebuilt, those trees are cut back, that place has a new fence, and this church is still there. You can just pass right by it, but if this is your church, your daily life, if it were gone, its absence would be the only thing you could see.