This week has been not my favorite. Like really not my favorite. This week has been filled to bursting with end-of-school-year busyness, the highs of birthday celebrations, and the lows of losing what is precious. Weeks like this wear me out and leave me aching for something I can’t quite grab — like trying to grab hold of the whirlpool in the bathtub drain; you can feel it, but you can’t capture it. I remember my babies, now very much not babies, when they saw the whirlpools in bathtub drains. Usually it was right before they escaped forever, and my babies were sad and wanted me to bring it back. But I couldn’t. Because the moment had slipped away.
That’s how the death of my dog feels today – like I didn’t see him enough until just before he slipped away.
Of course, that’s totally not true. I loved that dog. I loved his smile and the way he would sit on the couch looking like a prince. I loved how he crossed his front paws so delicately, and how he would chase a ball or frisbee as long as you would throw it. I loved him.
But in those last four days we had with him, I would look over and wonder if I had ever really seen him. Had I really appreciated the glory that was him? Had I really shown him how much he mattered to me?
These are the questions a bruised heart asks, even when a logical mind refutes them. Of course I saw him. Of course I appreciated him. Of course I showed him, day after day, how much he mattered to me.
And yet, there is that little voice questioning…
I think that little voice woke up when I was looking a pictures of Charlie and had the thought, “When did he get so much white on his face?” And that’s when I started questioning how much I was present in my time with my dog…how did I not notice how much he had changed?
Of course, I know the answer.
I didn’t notice how he was aging, how he was slowing down, how he was hurting, because it arrived on time’s quiet little cat-feet, sneaking in and taking its place by the very fire of his being.
Time does that. It sneaks in and takes up residence and you don’t even notice it. And if you do, it’s easy to wish away or ignore.
One day he was a brown dog and then he was a brown dog with a gray muzzle. And just last week I realized that gray was sneaking back, up over his muzzle and in little sprinkles past his ears as if he was an old dog instead of the dog I was thinking he should still be.
Time had so slowly turned that I hadn’t noticed it, until it sped up so damn fast I still can’t catch my breath.
I have a tendency to berate myself over yesterday and worry about tomorrow. Charlie was time’s reminder to take a moment today and just be. Be here. Be now.
A dog asks you to sit on the couch with him and just be. A dog asks you to take a walk out in the morning sunshine and notice which plants are blooming. A dog asks you to notice when it’s time for a meal, time for a nap, time for someone to be home.
A dog asks the best questions of us.
The question is will we hear them in time?
I’m trying Charlie; I’m trying.
The quietness of my days now are a loud reminder of what I loved about Charlie and what his legacy is: live life like a dog – with a wild excitement for being. Every bush is a chance to leave your mark, every stick an adventure, every couch an invitation to take comfort.