Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Paw Prints On a Purple Bench

I painted the bench in my hallway this week. I painted it purple. A deep dark elderberry color that makes me happy when I look at it. I put the finishing touches on it yesterday. The bench sits under the window looking out onto my driveway. The bench was made from wide pieces of polished wood that in a former life was part of a shelf system that used to hang on the wall of my bedroom and was full of books. I am a recycler by nature. 

I am learning to let go of things, but I save things like wooden shelves. You never know when they will come in handy. They call it "upcycling" nowadays and it's very trendy. I guess I'm ahead of my time.

Jordy, my sweet brindle Pitbull Lab mix often perched there on his hind legs, watching for cars pulling in, and was always there, paws up on the bench, head, practically out the window, when he heard my car pull in. I got mad the first time I found him there, one deep scratch marring the newly polished wood. I sanded the spot but it never was the same. 

My stomach would tighten with anxiety over my bench every time I saw that goofy face looking out the window from his spot when I pulled in from anywhere. The one deep groove became a series of grooved patterns, the bench, pretty much ruined. And then one day I decided to cherish the fact that my dog was waiting for me, and wood was wood. Who cared, really?

And now my brindle boy is gone, lying beneath the tree in my yard that blooms pink in the spring. The tree is about twenty feet high now, but was a sapling, a mere six inches when I got it as a gift for joining the Arbor Society. Jordy might have been a tiny puppy when I planted that tree. Like the tree, he grew strong and broad and eventually mature. But trees live longer than dogs, and he now lies under its broad green leaves, next to its roots.

I don't know why I didn't take a picture, and I regret it now, but the other night I went to admire my new purple bench and looked down at the place where Jordy's scratches are now purple scratches, and there I saw what looked like a paw print. I swear. I tilted my head to the side and discovered two tiny cat prints as well. I have two cats, so that's no surprise, but above the cat prints I know I saw a big print. A dog's paw print. I'm telling you. I called my daughter down and she confirmed it. I should have kept it. I didn't. But I know it was Jordy stopping by to let me know he's still here.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a friend

There's a flowered chair that sits in my living room and it's empty these days. It was Jordy's chair. When he sat there it was covered with blankets for softness and to prevent him from shedding all over it. It is lately uncovered to reveal the lovely flowered pattern and it is mine now. I sit in it and try to imagine his soft, furry warmth draped over it, from head to hassock. I try to feel his presence, try to fill an emptiness that is palpable. The emptiness washes over me and comes upon me at odd times. It mainly comes when I walk downstairs and see the chair, devoid of dog. No soulful eyes looking at me from over its arm, no stiff, achy old boy needing help to get down from it and make his way to the kitchen for his breakfast.

I have lost a dear friend. A friend I took care of and loved for over 15 years. My children were tiny when we brought the little guy home. A who knows what ~ Pitbull/Lab? Boxer mix? Brindled and gorgeous, he was our Nigerian Lionhound. My children are adults now and Jordy is gone. Wrapped in a blanket, under a tree in the yard.

But when he lived, he lived! Every moment filled with joy. Running in the woods, on the beach, catching balls and sticks thrown, gulping down snowballs caught in midair, digging in snowdrifts, rolling in who knows what, stealing the lemon cake and eying the turkey, sneaking his way up on the bed, one leg at a time.
Oh, he will be missed.

Here's the poem I wrote for him on his passing:

May golden light guide your way
And fields of flowers dance at your approach
May you be met by loved ones, soft and warm,
Our loving family; Dulcie, Indy, Skye, Kelsey, Vincent and Tamina
And may friends; Henry, Pippi, Haiku, Mack and Merck greet you too

Your kindness and warmth, your love and licks, your sweet gentleness
will never be forgotten and will live inside us for all of our days
And may you take our love for you in your heart as you make your way to the place
of happy days and running through fields and catching sticks and lemon cakes and splashing in the sea

Your soulful eyes will watch over us and as we sit in your favorite chair,
Which will become our favorite,
We will feel your presence embrace us, washing us with love
The most loyal love there is
The warmest and most unconditional
The truest love under the sun
Dog to person, person to dog
us to you and you to us
We speak soul to soul and we understand
We know

And when our time comes to leave this place, we expect you to be there
Waiting to greet us, tail wagging, ready for a walk
We love you.
Godspeed, Jordy.