Five days after deciding to start a 365 self-portrait project, my dog Odie had an emergency visit to the vet. He spent the entire day there and at the end of the day I learned that he had heart failure. The veterinarian was hopeful about treatment and longevity but warned that he could possibly not make it through the next few months. This news was ground-shattering for me. I started this project to capture the ups and downs of my depression I was experiencing months after returning to the United States after six months studying in Italy and then the emotional process of my time leading up to returning in the summer. But it turned into a story about losing my best friend.
In 2004, when I was 11 years old, I was given the best gift I could imagine. My own dog. He was eight weeks old and fit into the palm of my Auntie Lynn's hand, the woman who gave him to me. He had giant awkward ears and a was so full of love. I was going through a very rough time in my life and things did not get easier in the coming years. I was constantly changing schools, struggling in my classes, my parents divorced, I grew apart from my childhood friends, and I experienced bullying and social isolation in high school. But I always had Odie. I spent my first two years of college without him, but I visited home often. The six months I was in Italy, the spring semester of my fourth year of college, was the longest time I spent away from him. Our reuniting upon my return was emotional and dramatic, he dragged out his process of forgiving me for leaving. He was notorious for his sassy and bold attitude, but always full of love.
I dropped Odie off at the vet early in the morning after he was having breathing difficulties, fully expecting to see him at the end of the day. I went back home and took a nap, it was a week before I was departing for a summer in Italy to study abroad again. I woke up to a missed call and voicemail from the vet. Odie had died in a metal kennel while under their care, and I wasn't there to comfort him in that time. He was always there for me when I was suffering and he had to be alone.
I wasn't able to mourn properly for him. The following days I had to pack my apartment and pack my bags for the summer before spending a few days with my mom in Sacramento before leaving for Italy for four months. It was difficult to manage the mixed feelings of mourning and excitement. I am grateful that I was able to cherish my last days with him and I will always keep these times in mind.