“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
(yours truly at the ripe ol age of 7, cica 1966, with Snoopy on Christmas morning)
Have you ever loved something so much, so very much, that you thought a part of you would disappear completely and forever when it was gone? Even wondering if you could ever carry on without it?
Have you ever held something warm and soft close, so close, that you could bury your face deep into its fur whispering your deepest secrets and sorrows– only to find soothing comfort and solace in the rhythmic cadence of a tender heart beat, the soft vibrations of a contented purr and of its gentle breathing?
Have you ever been afraid of the dark, alone at night, as a storm rages out the window, when suddenly there is the presence of another, now close and comforting? One that climbs up and under the covers, laying its head on the pillow next to your own. A presence providing strength. A gentle sound of breathing from another, offering the courage of two verses you as one?
(the two inseparable friends one 12, the other 5)
Were you ever a young child who was fortunate enough to have a best friend?
One who loved you unconditionally?
One who was always around whether you were ready to play or not?
One who ventured forth with you into the adventures of misadventure only to be forced to retreat to the confines of the prison of ones room during the dreaded period of punishment?
Did you ever have a broken heart?
Only to pour that brokeness out to the small mass you held in your arms knowing somehow, someway it new exactly what was wrong and was there to help fix it?
As it listened to you, watching you intently, allowing itself to be held tight, almost too tightly without moving or wiggling free— all of this while the warm tears, your tears, fell on its back—just being there, soft, silent, brave and strong–simply there?
Did you ever find that after the two of you had grown up together, you were now the one who had to go away for long stretches at a time—only to return to a now slower older friend who still managed to summon the excited strength to be near you upon your return?
Did you notice how frail and grey it had become.
The all familiar and comforting breathing now labored, slower? What did the Vet say, cancer?
Yet the eyes, those eyes, that had watched you grow from 7 to 21, still focused on you, only on you as if you were the only thing that mattered?
Those eyes still deep and wanting nothing more than only you and your touch, your time?
(a much younger Dad with a contented friend in a regular perch)
Did you ever get the call from a parent, while away at college, with the news, the very very hard sad news that this best friend, the one who had been sickly as of late, the one who had fought a long hard fight, had heroically slipped away that morning to a different dimension that was suddenly different from the one in which you were standing?
Did you find that upon your return home, to the place that now seemed hauntingly empty and silent, that is was harder and more difficult than ever imagined? Shadows of what once was, now playing with your imagination. Was that movement out of the corner of your eye?
Was that him?
There is an oddly familiar rustling sound over by the closet, what was that?
You lay down, now alone, on the bed that was once shared?
Such a heavy loneliness.
(cookie at 21 and Snoopy at 13–1980)
Can a young heart ever heal when that best friend, that constant presence is no more? Can an older heart heal when the best friend of a different time slips away?
Swearing never to have any other.
There can never be another.
It is too hard, too painful, too taxing.
The nothingness, that is now something which no one else can fill, it hurts terribly.
The empty void.
An aching heart.
It is simply too much.
The color of life now oddly black and white.
There is no comfort, for comfort itself is now gone.
Yet the heart is deep, deeper than logic can explain.
Love is as amazing as it is vast.
Love transcends time as well as the depths of sorrow.
Healing begins, slowly.
The love which transcends the sorrow now settles in as a gentle feeling of timeless comfort.
The love that was soft and warm, constant and pure, moves deeper. It may no longer be at the ready touch, but it is there, for all of your life yet to be.
It is now, he is now– he is forever and for always.
The tangible him is no more, but the transcended him is now forever–
forever in the recesses of a vast and deep heart–your heart, the same place he’s always been.
Still loving, always you.