Sunday, January 15, 2012
One Year Today
It was one year ago today, old pal of mine, that you barked to go out and, stepping over the sill, your hind end gave way, collapsing to one side, then the other.
I had known these were our last weeks, and now the moment had come. It was time.
As was your habit, you barked all the way to the vet's, excited, thinking we were going walkies. But when we backed up to the door of the vet's, you lay flat and I had to drag you out, with treats as an incentive to walk through those doors one last time. Believe me, I never wanted to.
You didnt want to go either. You resisted the sedatives with all of your considerable will, as I sat on the floor with you, my hand stroking your head, just being there with you, for the very last time. I knew you had been the creature I was closest to on this earth, and the one who loved me most, and that now I would be alone. But even though I had tried those last two years to brace myself for this parting, I had no idea how big your absence would be. You had been such a large, noisy, hilarious, imperious Presence.
I couldnt stand walking away and leaving you there. I couldnt stand the thought of your beloved body going into the fire. I hated to think of your spirit seeing me walk away, thinking I had abandoned you there.
When I got back home, the neighborhood had fallen eerily silent. All of the neighbors said they actually missed your barking.
Some mornings later, as I was waking, I felt your nose on the edge of my bed, and you whuffed at me, as you always did to wake me. As I rose through the layers of sleep, I felt and heard you and dissolved in tears. I was so grateful for that visit, but it also showed me the size of what I had lost.
When I came back to the vet's, and she handed you to me in a small little cardboard box, I lost it. Your big, noisy, vibrant indomitable presence transformed into a small bag of ashes in a small container. Horrible.
I got you a special urn, I made you a special spot, with the blanket you slept on your whole life, your favorite toys, your collar and leash, your treats. But I dont feel you there. I dont feel you anywhere, and that has been the hardest thing to bear.
And, just so you know, I havent been to the beach or the river or the forest since you could no longer accompany me. I will miss you most in those places, where for fourteen years I never walked alone.
But I am beginning to wonder if, now that one year has passed, I might just find you there, where your spirit and mine were happiest and most free. I'm going to go and walk the river, old pal of mine, and remember the hundreds of times I watched you swimming there, and how you'd grin at me and bark for treats, in your demanding way. I'll toss a few along its banks. Give me a sign if you're there, okay?
I miss you, buddy. Today, that's the only truth I know. And I always will.