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.
(Top: Jessica Stewart; bottom: Jim Stewart)