Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o’er wrought heart and bids it break.— William Shakespeare, Macbeth
It’s tough to “give sorrow words.” I’ve tried several times over the past few days, and each time, the words were blocked with tears. Putting something into words can be one of the hardest parts of accepting it. But as I tell myself all the time, I’ll try to “write it out.”
This past weekend, I lost a very dear friend. That he was a dog simply means that he was the most unconditionally loving friend I’ve ever had. Carlos, or “Chachi,” was more to me than simply a friend’s dog, or a dog I watched while his guardians were away. I referred to him, partially humorously, as my “significant other,” but really, that’s what he truly was. For the past few years, I spent Valentine’s Days with him, and more Friday and Saturday nights than I spent out with other humans. He got me.
This past February, I picked up Harold Bloom’s poetry anthology, and I read aloud to Carlos from it as we spent Valentine’s Day weekend together.
I chose John Cleveland’s Mark Antony, which was sort of perfect in that it was under two pages, with magnificent cadence and superfluous language, written with a certain audacity that seemed to perfectly sum up my romantic relationship with Chach. I thereafter dubbed it “our poem.”
Wheneas the nightingale chanted her vespers,
And the wild forester couched on the ground,
Venus invited me in the evening whispers
Unto a fragrant field with roses crowned…
Carlos was on board with the flora and fauna mentions right away. “Birds to chase? Fields? Yes!” he seemed to say with the wag of his tail as I glanced at him after each stanza.
He was the best dog.
He loved his people, he loved going outside, he loved sniffing things, he loved snuggling, he loved treats, he loved breakfast, he loved dinner, he loved croissants… and he loved snow:
But it wasn’t just snow—see him do a similar dance in the leaves here.
There were no bad days with Chach. No matter how busy I was, I always jumped at the opportunity to go hang out with him for an afternoon, a few days, or a week—I knew that just being around him would make everything else all better. Dogs are like that, and Chachi more so than most. He knew how to communicate effectively with tilts of his head and the jingle of his collar—not with barks or whines or growls like any old uncouth canine could do. Really, the only time he barked was to let me know the Chinese food was at the door—and that was just because he was eager to sniff the delivery guy and wag his tail. No barreling or barging or jumping here, no—Carlos knew how civilized beings behave.
It’s been just two days since I said goodbye to Carlos, and already I can’t stand not being able to give him a big hug. If I were sad about anything else, Chach would be there to lick the tears from my face and put his head on my leg in support.
As in all difficult things, I find that it helps to have gratitude. So, buddy, I’m grateful that I got to spend the last few days with you. I’m grateful that I had years filled with “romantic getaways” with you. I’m grateful that you left this world peacefully and happily dreaming about chasing bunnies, and that I got to hold you and remind you again how much I loved you as you were running with them in Perpetual Puppyland. And I’m most grateful that you had more people in your life giving you love than most dogs, or humans, are lucky to have.
I love you.