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If Only I Could

It came like any other day.

The anniversary of your death passed almost unnoticed. It’s not that I don’t think of you. I often do. Just before I fall asleep, I’ll remember something we saw. Something we shared. And I speak to you then. Do you hear me?

Today I walked an urban landscape. Crossing the street at 4th , I was alone. A single light shone brightly. Too bright for this early hour, I thought. A fine mist wet my cheeks. Was it that? Had you finally come to say hello?

Suddenly, I felt bereft. Tears streaming. I cried like a little girl. It took a voice to stop me. “Spare change?” she whispered.

And with my eyes, I answered her, “Yes.” I wiped away my tears and emptied my wallet. “Right on,” she said. And I smiled for the stranger.

I would give her the strength of the mountains, pup.
If only I could.

With Me Always

This they have never done before.

The geese were all just outside our house this morning, pup. It was curious. I walked the drive to meet them and they did not rush off. Instead they watched me. Unafraid.

One in particular did not take his eyes from me. The others calmly stretched. They ate in silence. Slowly picking at the grasses in the morning sun.

They have come to acknowledge your death, I thought to myself. They miss you as I do. No longer do you trot down their hill in chase, just to see the beauty of their flight.

It was peaceful. A display of solidarity and compassion. For minutes we said nothing. Then, I greeted them. “I know, he is gone,” I said. “And I miss him too.”

At this they began to turn away. Towards the pond they ambled, one-by-one, he being the last to rise. It was then that I saw it. The goose, whose eyes would not leave me, turned towards the water and began to walk. His gait was uneven. Just a slight limp. A lack of control. That’s when I knew. It was you, sweet pup.

Thank you, my pup. For everything. I love you to the ends of the earth—and you will be with me always.

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We Shall Meet Again


Not yet twenty-four hours have passed, since I left you.

Already though, much has happened and I feel a burden lifted. I have been back to the ruin, momma, and she was there. It was as though she expected me. She rose from the stoop with doll in hand and a warm smile to greet me.

“You have come to keep me company, pup!” she exclaimed. “I am so happy to see you.” Then she motioned for me to follow. We wandered down the drive, where you and I first met, and where we once felt her presence. Where the stream still rushes to the meet the creek. Then up the hill she led me to our tree, the one of which you were so fond.

Oh momma, how I’ll miss your company. But I am comforted to know, as I watch you sleeping fitfully now, that when you wake, you will feel my presence. You will know that I have come to visit.

It was not by chance that I found you, momma. We were destined to be together and we shall meet again.

I must leave you for now, as she is calling me. “Come sweet pup,” she beckons. “We must go. It is time to tell the heron that you have finally learned how to fly.”

Yes, momma, I can fly.  It is wonderful. I am graceful. And I am free.


Certain Things We Know


There are certain things we know; we intuit.

Death has hounded me for months. I can even smell it on my breath. We’ve done a masterful job of staying just ahead of it. Outrunning it. Outsmarting it. But it is the natural order of things, momma. And death is relentless.

I see it every day in our walks. A carcass stripped clean. The shell of a Robin’s egg. I hear the cries at the climax of a hunt. They are all just outside our window, beyond the comfort of our door.

“Look, pup!” you said to me last night as we took our walk near the pond. “It looks like heat lightening.” But Momma, we both know, I replied with a look. It is the fireflies again, and this time I am ready. It is time now for you to let me go.

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We have come full circle, you and I.

Today you made me scrambled eggs. That was our first meal together, momma. Do you remember? That day I came to your door and asked you with my eyes—would you take me in? You said yes. “Yes, sweet pup. I will take care of you.”

Then, I ate my eggs ravenously. With as much gusto as a tired soul could muster. I was grateful. I was nervous. I had never known such kindness.

Today, I ate eggs from your hand. One mouthful at a time. Tentatively, as I wrestled with a question. Am I confusing my love for you with hunger? Momma, I have no appetite. This I have tried to tell you. But you are there, with food in hand. So I eat to comfort you now.

Be merciful, momma. I am an old soul and it is as you have said, “I can not keep you for myself, my pup.” There are others, many others, who are calling me.

I wonder. Like our friend the moon, will I too, live on for generations? “Yes, my pup,” you assure me as you stroke my forehead. “You have left an indelible mark on this world. You have touched my heart. You, my blessed, are everlasting.”


Want for Nothing


In my dreams, I’m a young pup again.

Eager to hunt and play, I rise without effort. My eyes do not deceive me—and my steps are steady and sure. All steel and stealth, am I.

In my dreams, my formidable presence sends the birds to flight. Even my shadow makes the geese scurry. Squirrels scramble for the safety of the trees and I revel at the site of it all. But it is just play to me; I mean them no harm.

I am alive in every fiber of my being. And I want for nothing.

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Today was my homecoming.

My joy was tempered by utter exhaustion and the look on momma’s face when the doctors gave her the word. I know her tears well.

I am an old man, momma. This we knew from the start. So, let us make the most of each day I am granted. “Try to live in the present,” I can still hear her say. I must remind her of this.

The indignities of life, they are not unique to me. Yet it still surprised me when the geese did not scurry to safety at the mere site of me today.

A lone bird has signaled all of my arrival and I am now greeted by song. It shall help me to sleep today. Yes, I think I will sleep well; I am home.


Missing You

I think about you from my hospital room.

It is strange to sleep here—without you nearby. Without the comfort of your breathing. Amid the whimpers of a stranger next door.

I have had a full life. And I am tired. I rest my head, grateful for the soft quilt beneath me. It still smells of you, momma. My mind wanders and I imagine that you are still here by my side. I feel the warmth of your body. The safety of your presence.

You were curiously quiet today. I saw you hide your tears to give me strength. It’s okay to cry. Today was our last walk to the waterfall, wasn’t it? It has been ages since I had the strength. Funny, how the day progressed.

As I give in to slumber, I imagine your kiss on my forehead. I hear the tenderness of your voice. “I love you ‘till the ends of the earth,” you say in my dream. I can see you in my gaze, momma. My greying muzzle rests happily in your hand—and all the world knows just how much it is that you love me.

You are part of me now. How lucky I was to have found you. To have loved you, and to be so loved.

When the rain kisses your face, momma. Remember. It will be me. Just me—missing you.


Unfinished Business


Not yet, I plead.

Don’t rush me, momma. This, I try to impress upon her, is important.

“Come on, sweet pup,” she calls me. There’s a scent on the bark of our beech tree and I am trying to decipher it. I ignore her second request.

She comes closer to cajole me. Now I am determined. Stubborn. Slightly annoyed. I have unfinished business to attend.

I back out from under the branches. I look her in the eye. Momma, why must you hurry me?

Burl Wood


I know somebody’s in there.

While all else is faltering, my nose has yet to fail me. Today it has brought me here—to this old tree.

That tree with the big knot of burl wood. Just large enough to hide its hole. Bulbous. Irregular. Curiously golden in contrast to the grey bark from which it has emerged. It is too big for me to climb.

I point for momma. I sniff again. Do not be afraid, I try to tell him with a wag of my tail. I just want to ask you to come out and play.

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