This has been the first Christmas in many years without you. Ah, buddy, I miss you so. There really is a hole in my ho ho. I’m still saying goodnight to you when I turn off the light. I may do that until I’m gone, too. If there’s an afterlife, I sure hope we can meet again. It would be interesting: two souls together once more without the human/dog thing happening. My naiveté doesn’t really know what to think about that stuff. I’m bound up in this human form and I’m sure there is an arrogance about me that I’m not even aware of, the whole humans are so special syndrome. Is what I think really who I am? Is what I think really what I think? I always assume my thoughts will eventually get around to something kind of profound and that I’m not wasting my time when I daydream about something, creating an internal dialog that might turn into some kind of art. Or am I just pretending to be aware? Does it even matter? Does doubt keep me honest or does it cloud my vision?
When you were alive, I’d bounce this stuff off of you as we’d walk. Before age really started to catch up with you, we had some pretty good routes around and through Gearhart—woods, dunes, beach, ocean. You seemed happy to listen. You’d look at me every once in awhile and make me feel like you were listening. It might have only been the droning of my voice that pleased you. At least you didn’t roll your eyes. Your kindness always informed my own.
Now that you’re gone, am I misrepresenting the friendship we had? Am I trying to make it more special than it was, to kind of glorify my grief? That would be an all too human behavior, I think. I don’t want to believe that’s what I’m doing. I’ll go out on a limb here and just deny it. What we had when you were breathing and enjoying the world was a true friendship that continues. I’m not sure how that works with you on the other side, but I’m learning. I’m guessing, hoping, you are too. Whether or not we survive in some kind of afterlife, you are certainly within my living heart and I am deeply blessed with that. I will continue to prattle on as I walk the old paths. And hey, they finished to the two bridges through the wetland and the Ridge Path now goes all the way to where we crossed the creek on that last walk we took. Maybe you can join me for part of the way. It feels like you do, sometimes. Another blessing.
Always glad to see me Always at my side; I need to say this clearly So it’s obvious when I die; I’ll stop the bus on the way Until I surely know: If there are no dogs in heaven, I don’t want to go.
Walking in the dunes Sniffing every tuft of grass; Patience with my impatience Is how you teach me class. If you could tell me how you feel I’d listen head to toe; If there are no dogs in heaven I don’t want to go.
In that moment when we look Into each other’s eyes, Our feelings of contentment Come as no surprise; My grateful grin, your heartfelt wag We reap just what we sow; If there are no dogs in heaven I don’t want to go.
If there were no dogs in heaven I’d be a garden without a rose, A napper with no doze, A doorway you can’t close, A face without a nose, A fire truck with no hose; Oh, I wouldn’t last a minute If heaven had no dogs in it.
Always glad to see me No matter where I’ve been; The happiest of greetings Shows in your goofy grin; At night you guard the hallway To keep us free of woe If there are no dogs in heaven I don’t want to go.
If there were no dogs in heaven I’d be a rainstorm with no drips, Poker with no chips, A gymnast with no flips, A dancer with no hips, A kiss without four lips; Oh, there’s not that much I know, But if there are no dogs in heaven I don’t want to go. If there are no dogs in heaven I don’t want to go.
She slept on the floor by the side of my bed, Snoring softly in the darkness. When it was time, she’d awaken me gently and I’d reluctantly lurch with her to the front door; Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, clear, rain, wind, snow…it didn’t matter; I’d let her out and trust her to come back. If it was wet or snowy, I learned to have a towel handy. My parents never stirred, nor did my sister, It was just me and the dog. She’d come back; I’d let her in and we’d go down the hall to my room, But she’d stop at each door to make sure nobody’d left while she was out. Before I fell back asleep, she always thanked me with a sniff And stretched out on the floor where my hand could trail to touch. Sometimes I’d hear her snoring begin again; Sometimes I wouldn’t.
Reading Brian Doyle and it’s like He took a vacation in my head, with a canoe or Kayak, paddling around the marsh collecting lily Pads and skunk cabbages, so prevalent in the dark spots, And weaving them into a poem that speaks Exactly to me and finds, dead on, the absolute place That renders me awed and agape at the perfection of it, The ultimate gift, you know?
I can handle my liquor, but fall on my face; My intelligence is genius, but misinterprets the problem; I see all obstacles, but step into the hole; My kindness is legendary, but my words bring tears; I am a great driver, but the bicyclist has to miss me; I am forthright and brave, but hide from the truth.