Happy Birthday, my Beloved

It’s the second year you haven’t shown for your birthday. No worries, we love you still and cherish you anyway: we’re not insulted, though we’re hurting a bit. Banana, dad and mom talk about you all the time; they bring up the anecdotes related to whatever we’re talking about/doing in relation to how you would react based on your past antics. They can laugh about it and find joy in sharing memories of you.

You were so much like me: stoic and reactionary only after you had time to take in your surroundings and the situation. I miss your alertness and how you would immediately warn me about strangers on the perimeter of the house. I even miss you waking me up way too early by using one paw to tap my thigh so I’d scoot over to make room for you on the glider or bed. Everyone loved how you used your paws the way humans use their hands to catch, hold, touch and investigate visitors and things. The way you would sit with your paws perfectly centered and your back perfectly straight was majestic: you looked exactly like a miniature white lion. I knew you were special the night I took you home and introduced you to your new family and territory. Mom couldn’t get over how perfectly white your silky puppy hair was and the way you were potty trained at only 10 weeks old.

I miss your warm little body against my back or belly. I didn’t appreciate you hogging the blankets or pillows but I did respect the way you would go about it. You knew your cold little nose digging underneath the covers would shock anyone awake and away from whichever pillow you wanted. Again, you used your little paws to lift the blankets to burrow into and you knew exactly how far to go so that your nose stayed on the outside while your body was cuddled close. When you had enough of the heated the blanket or just wanted some alone time, you would hide under the futon close to the baseboard heating unit. It was comical the way Banana or Dad would inquire of your whereabouts if you weren’t clearly in plain view; I think you sadistically enjoyed charging at people’s feet from under the futon the way you could be so sneaky and quiet when you were stalking us.

I hold onto your stuffed squeaking turtle in hopes that one day, maybe biotechnology will allow for the transfer of dead DNA into an exact living replica I can welcome home. It hurts so much when I realize the turtle is losing your scent and I try not to breathe in too deeply, too often for fear that your marshmallow smell will vaporize and I’ll have nothing left of you. Of all the boyfriends, towns, road trips, cars and friends, you were my constant. You always knew when I was heartbroken and the worried looks you’d throw at me sideways were endearing: the way you’d insist on playing by bring me a toy or grabbing a thong from the laundry basket were golden moments, making me realize there’s more to life where there’s vitality still left. When your vitality waned, I did what I was capable of and then went beyond it because it’s never enough if you give only your minimum effort/sacrifice when love is on the line; you have to gather all your strengths and punch through an imaginary wall posing as “your best effort.” On that horrible stainless steel table, you, my love, showed me one last time how wonderful and once-in-a-lifetime you are by you lifting your head in recognition when it was clear your feeble body could no longer contain your ginormous spirit.

I know that one day, I will have to answer for all my actions and words. I will have to face the consequences as I am judged for all the little things I did and said that had affected others in a big way (even those unbeknownst to me) as well as the big decisions I made that had long term effects. I know it’s more important to make amends while we’re still alive than hope to have a nonexistent conversation in the sky.

Which brings me to Whitey: an eleven year old tan and white cock-a-poo belonging to an autistic child who tends to be neglected in a household of three cats, nine hens and a younger female dog. Nobody takes the time to clean his ear of a fungal infection/reaction to eating anything containing chicken and it itches/hurts him a lot. He wasn’t as energetic when I first saw him and he was rail thin – I could see his ribs, spinal vertebrae  and pelvic bone – so, I made it my mission to fatten him up because the younger, stronger dog was bullying him away from the dog food bowl. He has a lot more energy these days and he waits for my arrival everyday. I clean his ear by swabbing out the disgusting reddish brown “pus” and cleaning his teeth with the Greenies you loved, too. The other pets crowd around me for affection and Houdini, a half Siamese cat from the Caribbean, thinks he’s a dog. Whitey and Houdini make an adorable pair when they’re both eating out of the dog food bowl and Houdini demands attention when I’m occupied with Whitey’s ears. Back in July, Whitey’s owners discussed putting him down because “he’s on the back nine:” as if an aging and slightly ailing pet was reason enough to have a photo shoot before putting him to sleep at their convenience. I told the female partner I would take Whitey home if they felt he was a burden or nuisance – calling her out on her callous behavior made her take a step back and act as if they never talked about and scheduled Whitey’s death. Everyday, I make sure he’s loved on and that the cataracts in his eyes aren’t deceiving him when he looks at me: yes, he is very much loved and doted on. I hope you can forgive me, Stitch, and put aside your jealous nature, to see Whitey can live to 15 with the right attention and care. I hope he lives as long as I had prayed you would; can you understand that and forgive me for loving another dog?

Halloween and the other holidays aren’t the same without you, though I think your spirit checks in every now and again. I sometimes think I can see you from the corner of my eye when I’m exhausted or just waking. I love you so much and I hope my love can reach across the span of space and time to the Rainbow Bridge. I’ll be seeing you there, eventually, but I already know, you’ll detect me first, won’t you? Happy Birthday, my beloved ❤

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