(On the day of her death - March 5, 1995)
Now that youíre gone I want to write a poem to your memory
But I canít find the words.
Not to express what a beautiful creature you were --
And certainly not to express the grief in my heart.
Now that youíre gone
I hate it that I wasnít with you --
That you and Mark had to face
The sting of death alone.
Now that youíre gone
I want so much to hold your body close in my arms,
To cradle your beautiful face in my hands.
Had you noticed how much I hugged you of late,
Sometimes so tightly, you shook yourself loose?
Iíd even begun to give you full-blown kisses on your head.
Now that youíre gone,
I think of all the pleasant moments we shared:
The piano lessons I gave
While you snored quietly on the couch -
(The students will miss you, too.)
Now that youíre gone
I remember the snacks we shared - oranges and carrots,
Trips to the yogurt shop with Jim and a special cone for you -
I never could convince you
You were a dog and should eat dog food.
But now that youíre gone -
I know you were heaven-sent -
That you were a gentle spirit specially given to Mark and me.
Now that youíre gone and weíre waiting the morrow for burial,
I grieve for Mark.
It is he who will prepare your burial place
Beside his beloved garden.
Your shroud will be a mantle of love
Such as no West Highland Terrier has ever known.
Go in peace to dog heaven, my precious pet,
Mark and I will be better human beings
Because of our holy encounter with you.
I have begun the first day of my life without you. Youíve been gone from me about 14 hours and my grief is profound. I canít get rid of this indigestible lump in my throat. Every act of my day reminds me of you. Our lives were so intertwined, I fear Iíll never again know joy.
When I went to the kitchen for my morning coffee, I expected to see you lying there on the bed waiting for my return. We always spent the first hour of each day together - you gently snoring by my side while I read and said my morning prayers.
I hesitate to make the bed this morning, because that is the time I always let you out in the yard. With every step I get a new sharp pain because there is a reminder of you in every room I enter. Your bed is in my bedroom - although you only slept in your bed when I was gone. When I look at the calendar, I see Xís marked on every other day to remind me of your medication. In the kitchen I see your empty water and food bowls and am grieved that I cannot put food and water there for you. There is a bitter-sweet memory of you when I go into the bathroom. I remember that sometimes I didnít close the door completely and you would nudge it open with your nose to be with me.
I am now reminded that you have an appointment with the groomer next Tuesday and I shall have to call and tell them that you are gone. I always loved picking you up from your haircut -- you looked so beautiful and smelled so sweet.
Even as I sit here, I imagine I hear you as the license and name-tag on your collar tinkle as you walk. It brings a new flood of tears as I realize I shall never hear that again.
I have piano lessons later today. You used to paw at my arm after I had given more than two lessons in succession. Like me, you were hankering for some attention by then and you always reminded me it was time for a warm-fuzzy.
I have just returned from purchasing your coffin and found lovely flowers on the front porch from your vet. Dr. McCutcheon also thought you were a very special dog.
You know, Jeannette brought us together. Her little girls are relatives of yours. So when I called her last night to tell her you were gone, I know her heart hurt as mine does.
When I look up 22nd Street, I am reminded of your recognition of Shirley & Edís car when they came to see us last summer. Every time you saw that car you knew your girl friend, Star, was coming to visit. You and Star were so well-behaved and became good girl friends just as Shirley and I have always been.
Since I canít keep the tears from my eyes, I have canceled todayís piano lessons. Besides it would be too much for your little friends to arrive while Mark is preparing your burial plot. They will all miss you terribly.
People tell me that I will get over you more easily if I get another dog. The irony is that your daughter, Cricket, has weaned her puppies and is being spayed today. Sandy said that I could have her if I wanted. In some ways it would be nice to have a part of you still living on in your daughter. But I canít think I could ever love another animal as I have loved you, even if it is your daughter. Sandy says Cricket is more like her grandmother than she is like you. I only want you back.
Dr. McCutcheon just called. I told him that I had shed some tears of remorse and wondered if I had, perhaps, given you too many treats (like frozen yogurt.) He assured me that you and I had been meant for each other and he thought you had had the best of care. I hope so, my love, because I can hardly stand the thought of having done anything to harm you. In thinking of you, I have also thought that you were a much gentler creature than I. I regret so much any pain I caused you when I combed you and I had to pull at the tangles sometimes. Although you never complained, only shivered so that I knew it hurt. BUT YOU NEVER HURT ME - only brought me sublime joy.
As I looked out the window on this rainy Monday morning, I thanked my God for you. You were truly the joy of my life over the last six years and I pray the time will come when I can only smile when I think of your gentle love. Right now, I can only cry.
GOOD BYE, TAFFY.
© 1995 Olga S. Hardman