Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How he died

A friend of mine told me not to dwell on how my bubby died. But at this point, I cannot not dwell on it to some degree.

I think I need to get it on paper (or a reasonable facsimile).

I had been fighting with J. I returned from Uganda last week last Thursday night.

My bathroom was not complete and I was forced to stay at J's house. I wasn't happy about that because when I return from a trip, I like to sleep in my own bed in my own house. The plus is that I was with my favorite people/animals - J and my two dogs.

I had to teach on Friday evening and Saturday morning. When I returned on Saturday, I noticed not one bit of progress on the bathroom and I became enraged. Poor J bore the brunt of that.

So enraged in fact, that I spent the night at my mom's since I still didn't have a toilet and had not one bit of interest staying at J's house again. The dogs went with me, of course.

They love my mother's house. She has quite a bit of land and a pond. The dogs are very good about running freely without getting into any trouble, and certainly without wandering into other yards.

I consider myself lucky.

I had been getting up at 6 a.m. since I returned from Africa. So I went home. I thought I would get a start on the renovations before J arrived so that we could finish.

It had been unseasonably hot and humid. I would guess the temperatures had been in the 90s for a few days with 100% humidity. It's not unusual in WNY. We get weather like this, but not suddenly. Usually not until July or August.

I had to use the bathroom (and not a bucket) so I drove to J's house. I returned to see him in the driveway awaiting my return. I was still mad at him so I thought he was trying to apologize. I got out, still cranky because I am like that. He wanted a hug. I gave it reluctantly because I was still angry and because we were both sweating our asses off. It was muggy, hot and uncomfortable.

That's when he kept saying, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry." I thought it was because of the renovation delays.

Then he said, "Beeno's dead."

It has to be a joke. But who jokes about one's favorite pet? Who says, 'Beeno's dead.....just kidding!"

I rushed to the backyard to see him lying on the grass. Not unusual. He liked to lie on the grass.

I could hear J behind me telling me that he tried to give him CPR. He tried to keep him alive until I got home. J is a farm boy so I believe that he tried to give Beeno CPR. I believe that he tried to keep him alive. I believe that he was sorry. He said that he came outside to rub his belly. He got his tickle spot. Then he threw a stick for Beeno to fetch. Not at all unusual. Quite a normal morning.

Then J went in the house to get another bag of garbage. When he came out, he said Beeno was gasping to breath and was barely breathing. CPR didn't work. He wanted to keep him alive so that I could say good-bye.

But Beeno was dead.

He just laid there. I lifted his lifeless head. It frightened me because it was heavy. I don't remember that.

I don't remember any part of him being heavy. I don't remember at all that he was lumbering.

He wasn't sleeping, that was clear. His eyes were open. Oddly, they had started to look foggy when he was alive. Now I remember them in death as brown and black and beautiful. Not a smidge of the opaque white that had begun to infiltrate his vision.

His tongue was sticking out of the side of his mouth. It was unnerving. His tongue was often outside his mouth. But outside his mouth in front because he was panting because he was running and playing.

I was able to touch his paws. I always loved to do that but he hated it. He would pull away whenever I tried to touch them. I felt a bit guilty taking advantage of him now so that I might indulge my selfish pleasure.

The scruff of his neck had always been one of my favorite parts. I would often rough it up and stick my own face into it. I loved the smell of him. I would sometimes try to memorize the smell. Again, was I afraid I would ever forget it.

Smells are important to me. I read once that each of us has some psychic powers. They just need to be developed. They may also manifest in different ways for each of us. I have a friend who is very visual. She sees things from beyond - rarely, but sees them nonetheless. I smell things. Several times I am convinced I have smelled my father. He will have been dead for 20 years in December, but sometimes I smell him as if he is standing next to me. I am sure I will always smell Beeno. And I will be comforted, much as I am when I smell my dad.

I had to remove his collar because I wanted him to be free of constraints in death. He had to be free.

I lifted his head to try to rest it on my leg. It didn't seem to want to be there.

Beeno wasn't like that, you see. As a shepherd/retriever, he didn't qualify as a lap dog. He loved attention and affection but in a way very different from our other dog - the consummate lap dog. He was very much like me, in fact. I know you love me and I love you. Just rub my neck and feed me. We will get along famously.

As in life, so in death. He didn't want to be held. Didn't need to be held. I recognize that now. He didn't need me to hold him. I needed me to hold him. He knew there was so much love and that wouldn't change no matter what. No matter death.

My bubby.

I called everyone. That's what I do. Poor J probably thought I didn't want to be near him. Not true at all. I must connect with my network and my network includes dog people. I called my sister first. Flabbergasted was her response. Then my other dog friends. Shocked.

And supportive and amazing. I could not ask for better friends.

I called my mom. Beeno needed to be buried. I had always thought I would cremate him, but somehow burial seemed more appropriate. I don't know why. My mom was sorry to hear about Beeno. And she said so. She told me of course I could bury him in the backyard by the pond. He was always there swimming and running. It made a fitting final resting place. And my mother's property would always be in the family. We weren't sure how long we would be at my current residence.

I then had to call my brother. He lived on the pond now and I would want his blessing. My niece answered because they were playing "Sing Star Pop" and it was my brother's turn. I could hear his horrible voice in the background trying to sing some pop song to appease his daughter. I know he secretly loved the game. And I know he could give a shit that we all think his singing voice sucks. He would be the first to admit it. And the first to admit he won't win the game. Who cares. It's fun.

When I told him he seemed genuinely upset. My brother does not like animals. I think he doesn't want to get close to them because we had a horrible history with animals growing up (post for another time). Don't get close to animal, don't get hurt. That must be his motto. Although he will tell you they are messy, stinky, ugly, insert other nasty adjective here.

He told me he would dig a hole and we could bury him somewhere he won't be digging.

When we were finally able to get to my mom's, we drove in and went straight to the pond.

I regret that I didn't stop to get my mom. I thought she heard us come in and would meet us back there. That she didn't did't surprise or phase me. I am sorry about that now.

My brother used the backhoe to dig a hole for Beeno in a wonderful spot. He was often in that spot running before he got to the pond to jump in after God only knows what he was always after. While he dug the hole, I sat in the back of my truck with Beeno's head in my lap. I had to. I had to play with his neck scruff one more time. Smell him one more time. Kiss his head one more time. Pet his back one more time.

Then I put his bed - the one with 'Beeno' embroidered on it into the hole. I put his two sticks and a bone into the hole. Then J picked him up and placed him in the hole. He straightened his bed and placed his toys closer to his head.

Then we covered him.

And he was gone.

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