Dear Goddamned Dog,
It was two years today. Thing 2 came home from school after your pain became unendurable. We spent the night with you, carried you when you couldn’t walk, gave you your favorite treats, told you how much we loved you, kissed the soft fur on your head, and said goodbye.
And yet, you’ve never left me.
I often wonder what you’d think about things around here. First of all, the beagle. You’re right Ad, I often think, there’s no excuse for a beagle. You would be appalled if you were here, and you’d glance at me as she trained you to do her bidding. I can sometimes picture the two of you in the kitchen together. While neither of you particularly like to share food with other dogs, you would. She doesn’t. Many of her exploits are thwarted by her vertical limitations. As you had no such shortcomings, I can imagine scenes where she’d alert you to a goodie on the counter, you’d get it, she’d create a distraction (she howls, Addie, and sometimes that sets off the doorbell extender, which rings the bell, causing her to howl again, causing the bell to ring again – you’d have no chance) and take the food when you dropped it in the maelstrom of chaos.
I’d need to get a bigger bed. It didn’t surprise me that a king-size mattress was small for two Swissies and a human, and then only one Swissy and a human, but it turns out it’s also small for a single beagle and a human. I did not know this.
There are a lot of new Things hanging around these days. They’re brilliant and sweet and energetic and they understand the importance of sharing food with a dog. You’d love them all, and it’s hard to imagine that none of them even know you, except to see the portrait Nancy painted of you. You sit beside me day and night, welcoming all who join us, and keeping me company.
Your Primary Things are doing fine. Thing 2 will graduate from college in May, if you can believe it. She-Thing too. Thing 1 has also brought us a She Thing, and they’re moving apartments this week before heading to California for climbing and surfing. He’s still not real big on day job stuff. They’re grown, now, both of them, but they still come by, still are the same caring, warmhearted Things you knew.
We lost a couple of friends this year, including a very special one. The fields where you ran and rolled are still there, and the Beagle and I can still spend time with the rest of his family, but Vic now walks beside me like you and Betty do. Sometimes I swear I can hear you there. All of you.
There’s been too much travel and too much work, much of it noise to fill an empty house, but plenty of good things, too. Good friends, good meals, good memories. And that beagle, all twenty pounds of her, who rockets into the void with her exuberance and diabolical, loving ways.
After you died, a friend sent a Gardenia in memory of you. Though I watered it, something you know I don’t normally bother to do with plants as it feels like taking time out of my day to care for salad, it still withered. Not just lettuce, but picky lettuce. Was it too much water? Too little? Not enough or too much sun? Who knows. I kept giving it water when I’d remember, and it pretty much sat there all through the spring, summer and fall, a few sad, mostly brown leaves clinging to its branches. Then January came around, and suddenly it started showing signs of life, new leaves popping up, a new branch starting to form, and even a flower bud. I watched it, wondering what it might do, but it did nothing, for weeks. Then, late on the night of February 19th, just before the anniversary of you leaving, it bloomed.
It went dormant again after that, or maybe it just lost faith in me, and in the year since I’ve almost thrown it out several times. But this last week, again, the plant has started to grow. No flower this year, but bright, new leaves shining in the light coming through the window. Not as much as last year, but I guess that’s how it works; we get a little less of those we’ve lost each year they’re gone.
I miss you, Goddamned Dog.