When a human dies, the grieving family member or friend may regret things left unsaid. Emotions are kept close to the chest for fear of too much intimacy revealed or more likely because they figured there would be more time down the road.
But with you, it was different. Every morning and every night I told you how much I loved you. I kissed you and scratched you and sometimes squeezed you despite your obvious distaste for that level of affection. We shared countless “moments”. Your eyes would bore into mine when you wanted something, but sometimes I would be boring right back, trying to see how many lives have been documented behind those wizened eyes. I have only known a few “Old Souls” in my lifetime, but you were the epitome; everyone could see it in your eyes. Just last week we had a staring contest in the middle of dinner. You caught me looking at you from across the room while you were eating, and so you stopped. And I looked to the side and resumed my popcorn consumption, trying to not be obvious that I was still looking, and you picked up a kibble, but kept your attention diverted on me. I stopped and stared, and you did the same, and eventually, after our eyes remained locked for almost a minute, you gave an imperceptible nod and continued eating.
So I can’t regret things left unsaid, but it’s hard for me to accept that despite my daily proclamations of adoration and love, you didn’t understand a word of it. You didn’t know what “I love you so much, Mamela” meant, nor could you comprehend the daily, weekly, yearly accumulation of declarations because time did not mean the same thing to you. It didn’t matter, except that it coincided with scratching, which is what you wanted, nee demanded, every morning.
How often I supplied your dialogue, silly and funny, but considering I knew you so well it was usually appropriate.
“It’s basic, Mama. Three things: Scratches, Dinney, Walk Outside. Basic.”
And the tennis ball. You loved that effing tennis ball with such ferocity that I literally could not pry it from your mouth. The only thing you loved more than the tennis ball were the treats I was forced to use to bribe the ball away from you.
Remember when you were a puppy and you were a poorly behaved terror? Food bloat after food bloat, and no matter what lengths we would go to to keep you contained, you inevitably broke out like a wicked Houdini. You climbed the baby gate like a monkey, just to gobble up Cozy’s food. And we came home, only to be greeted by a fat, waddling little Boston Terrier who seemed to be pretty proud of herself for her accomplishment. You chewed Busty’s shoes when you were a puppy! You! The “Good Girl”. That’s something that people don’t know about you. Before you were the Good Girl, you were a crazy Boston Terrorist for the first six months of your life.
But for over fourteen years, you were the Good Girl. You were the one that minded, the one that listened (most of the time), the one that I could trust off leash. Strangers favored Baby O because of her puppy looks and behavior, and because she was so social, but everyone that spent a considerable amount of time with you eventually came to realize your merits.
You were my best friend. You lived with me in Laguna, San Fran, Manhattan, and Brooklyn. Vanessa and I were so young when we first fell in love with you, and you have been there for every birthday. What will I do at my next birthday? You won’t be there, my Mamela, my baby, my Good Girl. When I cried, you were distressed and always there to lick my tears. When I packed luggage, you paced and paced, potently aware that I would be leaving you soon. When I busted out the camera or phone to snap yet another photo, you conceded, even though you found it tiresome.
I’ve always known this day would come, and I have bored and distressed my friends with talk about this inevitable day and its consequences, but I was honestly scared that I wouldn’t be able to deal without some preparation. I've carried your heart for almost fifteen years, after all.
Dear Mamela, I love you so much. There will never be another dog like you.
My Dog is Dead.