You were always on my mind…

I said goodbye to my Lovely Lucy yesterday.

For seven of the greatest years she was never far from my side – much to her chagrin, I’m sure. I realize now more than ever just how often she was on my mind. Apart from the everyday things pet owners have to think about, it was also just her… like an adjunct spirit.  I felt her presence everywhere I went, and when I had to be far from her, I felt heavy and heartbroken. Even then. I was Roy Neary sculpting his mashed potatoes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  He was haunted by a vision that wouldn’t quit. He drew, he sculpted, and filled his home with trash and made his living room like a huge, stinking art installation.  He just saw it all the time, he couldn’t shake it. When he finally saw Devil’s Tower on the tv and he knew the thing that possessed him was real… his relief melted from him in waves; blood, sweat, and tears. Of course then the movie took on a new dimension, but that’s neither here nor there…

That was Lucy for me. No matter where I went or what I did, she was always on my mind. Big black eyes, ruffled fur, and her nose-licking tongue. I captured her from floating images in my mind: sketchs, dry erase markers, chalk, paint, pastel, paper cutting, in the margins of enough paper to fill a book… I tried to capture her in every way that I could. Of course, nothing is as good as the original.

For seven years I felt that beautiful relief, too, coming home and scooping her up.  She was there, and real, and lovely. She didn’t like to be held, she certainly didn’t like to be snuggled, and I know she probably dreaded the few moments I’d press my nose to her nose and kiss her tiny, stinky mouth; but she’d always let me do it. At 8.2lbs to my 130, I guess she didn’t stand a chance; but she’d usually give me a few moments before wriggling out of my arms like a roided up spider. I like to think she was deliberate in her sensitive pauses.

I’ll see her the same way for the rest of my life.  As lost as I feel right now, I know it won’t always feel “haunting.”  Ever on mind, she’ll just be like a forever muse.  I took about 1000 pictures of her. It’s so hard to know there won’t ever be one more, but I know she’ll keep popping up in the margins.  I won’t be sculpting her likeness from garbage in my living room, though if you know me, you know that’s not an impossible notion…

I sniffed her toes, even when I really shouldn’t have. I breathed into her neck and kissed her until her fur was wet. I whispered sweet nothings in those giant ears even after I knew she couldn’t hear me. I’d put her bed on my desk so I could pause periodically to annoy her with a nuzzle. Every, single, day. I think my real full-time job was just loving Lucy.  I followed her around my apartment, and when I didn’t, she followed me. As independent as she was, I could count on seeing a small black dot at the very bottom of my shower door. She stopped barking over a year ago, but if I had to leave for a longer stretch of time, I’d receive a video text from someone of her barking like a madwoman. It hurt to hear, but it made me feel loved (like only she could).

I held her, I walked her, and when she couldn’t walk I carried her everywhere I could. She’d been ready to go for some time; and my family and friends have been trying to prepare me for months. I didn’t think I’d ever know.  It’s really true. You don’t know, until you know.

Yesterday, I realized that the lovely visions of her that live in my mind, weren’t being mirrored by the real thing.  I stole as many kisses as I could, and as we walked the park together I held my cheek against her little face. I looked in her big gypsy eyes and told her I’d see her one day and I thanked her for wrapping herself around my heart for all these beautiful years. I like to think as I held her little body, my spirit wrapped itself around hers and took her in. We were always braided together. Even though I am puzzled by the absence of her paws clicking against my floors, I feel her with me more than ever.

I’ll never need to go anywhere without my Lovely Lucy again.

And if there is a heaven where all dogs go, I know Tramp and Luther were there to meet her.