She lifts her face to the sun. To her, there are no shadows. Just warmth and light, and a soft place to lay down.
You’ve been gone longer than you were here. That makes me awfully sad.
You were such a good thing in my life.
I knew when you pooped on the floor at Petsmart on our way home from picking you out that we had absolutely no idea what we were getting into with you.
Remember how you chewed up all my cookbooks? I still have them you know…I don’t use them much anymore but I can’t bear to part with them.
They remind me too much of you.
It’s true that we didn’t know what life would be like with a Labrador…with you… Nor did we know just how magnificent a dog you would turn out to be.
My heart aches a little, sometimes a lot, every June 10.
Miss you old Pal. I always, always miss you.
Is there really a Rainbow Bridge?
The other night I sat in our room upstairs folding laundry. Ella was in bed, tucked snugly under her fluffy white comforter and humming along to the sound of Henry’s recorder. He played all sorts of tunes, and she hummed along. They often sit together while he plays. He does quite a good job with that recorder, though he could not sing a tune on key if his life depended on it.
I could hear the water running downstairs — David was cleaning the dinner dishes, William was reading, and Kate was on the computer doing some type of homework. And I sat folding another load of laundry. I can remember back to when everything I folded had tiny little snaps and zippers and never folded up very well into a nice little rectangle the way I like. And now I fold compression shorts, and football pants and slippery basketball jerseys, cheer uniforms, plus a LOT of socks. None of those things fold very neatly either, actually. I fold and I sigh a little…time does go by.
There is a large picture window in our room which overlooks the front yard. We used to be able to look out the window and see clear down to the end of the street. Now, in just ten little years, the maple tree is so large I cannot see past it. It’s green leaves ruffled in the breeze that night, making the setting sun’s light flicker through the shutters. What I see the most when I look at that tree is it’s shade. I can remember sitting with Coco in the tiny patch of shade it provided ten years ago…we had to keep moving to stay in that shade patch because the tree was so small. That was back when he was sick, but before I knew he was sick. He would just sit there with me. I thought he had finally, at eight years old, mellowed out. It turns out that he was dying. It still to this day breaks my heart that I didn’t even know.
But life goes on…time marches on even when your world feels like it has been jarred mercilessly into stillness. You look around at all the people, and they don’t notice…they don’t realize that your world has stopped because their world has not…
The day after Coco died, we spent a few hours at the pool. I don’t think I moved from my chair much. His death exhausted me, it consumed me — the memory of it, the pain of it. But when we came home and walked through the door, I expected him to be there. I forgot. I forgot he was gone. Sorrow has a funny way of torturing a person like that for a long, long while, smothering them at first like a heavy, wet shroud, and then slowly unraveling until finally all you feel are the shreds of grief now and then.
It will be nine years without that big, old labrador next week. And now I sit here, with another dog — a beagle — on my lap. Poppy.
She is a good dog. She is seventeen pounds to his 75. She is a lot like him, to be honest. Having her doesn’t stop the missing him, though. I guess that’s the sorrow…still touching me even nine years later.
Miss you old buddy.
I have never been one to make resolutions. I can’t keep them. It seems silly to go through the motions, every year, knowing full well that they mean nothing to me, and so I don’t.
I did, however, make some resolutions for Poppy, because she is in serious need of reform.
1. Resist the temptation to bark at every last squirrel in the forest.
2. Stop eating legos.
3. Refrain from licking nether regions in public.
4. Stop tinkling on blankie.
5. Fix breath problem.
Numbers 1, 3 and 5 present a serious challenge, and it is clear from days 1, 2 and 3 of this new year that she is going to struggle. But, once she masters these resolutions, she will absolutely, totally be the perfect dog.
One thing is certain…she has totally mastered the art of puppy dog eyes.
Happy new year!
This morning I thought about the walks we’ve been taking this summer, how we go to the creek and the kids find large empty snail shells, and we pick brown eyed susans and queen anne’s lace and any other little wild thing that looks pretty. It has been so hot lately that we have to go early. It is beautiful then, and quiet. The goldfinches, with their swooping pattern of flight, streak across the path in front of us. Rabbits are everywhere, and Charlie is so busy sniffing the ground for rabbit tracks that he doesn’t even see the rabbits when they are right in front of his face. I have loved the walks this summer.
This morning I thought about the wildflowers, and remembered that the mason jar we use to put them in was empty, so I decided that when I walked Charlie this evening I would pick some new little flowers to put in it. Only Charlie isn’t here anymore. It actually took me a few seconds to remember that.
It’s funny how sorrow hits you in the simplest, prettiest moment, when you least expect it. It kindof knocks the breath out of you, the way your heart falls.
I try to think about how we gave Charlie a wonderful home for two months. How we helped him to trust again, even if just a little. I try to convince myself that we did a good thing. But I don’t really believe any of it. I honestly find it hard to even catch my breath, I feel so remorseful.
I never even ordered him a tag for his collar. I wish I had done at least that one little thing for Charlie. I just kept forgetting…
All of his things are packed up, now. His hairy little blankie still needs washing, though. There is something about putting everything away that makes it seem like he was never here. Even Mr. Loofah up there is gone. (And don’t let the cheesy smile fool you. Mr. Loofah is totally sad.) I think I’m going to leave that blankie out for a while, just to remind me of him, that he was here, that he was ours.
What all this sadness makes me realize is that in just 8 little weeks I loved that dog. I never would have thought such a neurotic creature could do that to me. But he did. Good old crazy Charlie. (Maybe I am crazy, too).
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Yes, Mr. Gibran, you are right. He was totally my delight.
Three years ago today, we lost our Chocolate Lab, Coco, after a brief illness. I still miss him deeply, every single day. After this long, I thought I would have been mended, but I still can’t look at his scrapbook without melting into a puddle of tears, without that ache in my heart that only surfaces when I think too much or too long about him. I have his picture on my fridge as if he is still around, under my feet or snoozing on the couch. There are other constant reminders of him…the hardwood floors that bear scratches from his nails, his collar that I keep in my top drawer, even my cookbooks that he shredded one day when he was a puppy.
The Man and I have for years had a (nearly) nightly ritual of eating ice cream before bed. Back when Coco was still around, we would clink our spoons on the bowl when we were finished eating, as a signal to Coco that it was his turn to lick the bowl. Even now, I find myself clinking, and then realizing. Perhaps that is the hardest part–the forgetting and then the remembering.
I miss you something awful Coco. I’m afraid I always will.