What kind of memorial can I write for this tough and loyal little friend of mine? Only that I wish he were still here. That missing him is like looking into the inside of a crystal Easter egg and wishing I could climb inside to that bright and magic space. That I am on the wrong side of the Looking Glass, and he is on the right side. That I know exactly how it feels to be left behind...
I remember how we crept through that last year of your life together. You were so greatly diminished, and I was so terrified of losing you. Every day that we were together for all those years before, you had my back and I had yours, daring the world to even suggest that you were not the best, the most intelligent, the bravest, the smartest, and the most beautiful dog that any person could ever possess and that I was not the best, the most intelligent, the bravest, the smartest, and the most beautiful person that any dog could ever possess. We knew better, you and I.
I remember the first day I brought you home, 11 months old, sitting beside me in the car, you looking furtively at me, me looking furtively at you, so much pure unhappiness in those eyes, so much rage at not being acknowledged. I stood by you while you battered yourself against the sides of crates and cages, and finally, just those closed doors, while I did those dull and necessary things that I couldn’t do with you. I stood by you when my petsitter quit because you attacked her dog, I stood by you while friends with less combative dogs politely and quietly and permanently drifted away, I stood by you even when you did your best to drive every other living creature out of my house. I wouldn’t, couldn’t ever give you up.
We were tied together you and I, by the heart. Remember those long and solitary walks, for miles and miles, through woods, marveling at the sun stippling the ground through the thick cover of the trees, the wildflowers gathered in tiny brilliant patches on the cool, damp ground, the sudden open spaces, impossibly green and blazing with light? Where we could pause for a few moments or an hour, and see, really see, the world all around us? Do you remember the times that we drove together, me picking the route, and you riding shotgun, down all those rock strewn and bumpy back roads, for miles and miles, just to see what we could see?
I slept better when you were at my back. You were always there.
And I miss you more than I can say.
My little redheaded dog.