On fur & mortality II
I must have met you in 2014. That’s what I think, anyway. Time gets distorted in moments of grief and loss — and it’s not all that easy to track anyway. I know I’m saying this to a dog, whose sense of time is vastly different from my own… whose time on earth is too short. So short as to be almost cruel.
It’s said that dogs are nature’s perfect beings for living in the moment, for extracting all the love and beauty and deliciousness and play and sweetness and sunshine from life with none of the ridiculous habits we humans have: there are no grudges for you, no wishes for a slightly better lot in life. Just pure, unmitigated joy. Right in the moment. I saw this joy in you every time you saw your mom and dad. Every time you got a walk. Every time you zoomed around the yard or laid in the sun or cozied up in your spots at home.
I don’t know. Maybe dogs get shorter lives because we’re all born with a joy quota and you just hit yours faster. Because you’re better at life.
I want to say one more thing about time, because it bears mentioning. Over these last 15 months, the whole world has grappled with a pandemic, civil unrest, and about a million other things. There were very few silver linings about the world chaos… but one of my favorite silver linings is that you got to be with your parents so much over the last year, because we were all stuck at home. You got extra love, extra attention. That brings me relief in this moment, when I ache for losing you.
A word about your parents, and your doggy soul: I run in circles of people who are wild about their critters. We love you beyond all reason. We call you our “fur babies” and freak out if you sneeze or look at us funny. We want to protect you from every real or perceived danger: from cars to thunder to boredom to real threats, like cancer. Trust me, Ruby, I know a lot of people who are crazy about their dogs… and I do not know a dog who was more loved, more perfectly matched, than you. You had a special soul and you found your way to a place, and people, who loved you incomparably. Who did the right thing for you every single time. Even when the best thing was the hardest thing.
And I know you loved them too. Tried to protect them from everything. Trenches, pests in the garden, your own pain. You were unselfish in the way you loved your parents: you did the best you could to keep them safe. You saw them through a lot of hard life stuff. Steadily, loyally, with a selfless love that we humans cannot even imagine. A love so perfect we nearly don’t deserve it.
I know that dogs don’t do things like worry, but I want you to know that — because you set the ultimate example for loving your parents, we humans who also love your parents will be able to do it just a little better. And with the same dedication and loyalty. We’re humans so we’ll fall a little short sometimes, but you have done your loving work. We’ll take it from here and they are safe in our hearts. We will never be as good as you, but we will do our best: I promise you.
You were a friend to everyone, Ruby. Every baby or fur baby, the crossing guard and her human baby, every being you met.
When Butters was still with us in furry form, you were one of his best friends.
Butters was my heart companion. I will love other dogs over my lifetime, and my heart will break when they leave earthly form, but Butters was the one. I’m telling you this for two reasons. First, you were the one for your parents. I bet you already know that, but it needs to be said. And second, wherever it is you’re headed, I know, beyond all doubt, that Butters is waiting for you. And, that in so many ways, you are both still here — everywhere. Every time we love. Every time our hearts break. Every time we do something hard. And especially, especially, every time we see or feel joy.
We remember you. We love you.