“What We Leave Behind” by Shanna Germain, Best Gay Romance 2013 (Cleis Press). Edited by R. D. Cochrane and Timothy J. Lambert.

The narrator’s lover Thom signed them up to be hospice care providers to a terminally ill animal because he was himself terminally ill at the time and trying to come to grips with that fact. Now he and the dog they cared for are both gone, and a hospice worker named Seth is at the door, accompanied by another dying animal. The narrator doesn’t want to go through all of that again, and yet…

This is a very satisfying story about loss and rebirth, about choosing to keep going instead of crumbling when faced with death, about making a deliberate decision to live. It could easily have been a maudlin tale, but it is not. Instead it seems hopeful. And if I am reading the credits correctly, this is excerpted from a larger work entitled Animal Attraction (Torquere Press, 2007).