As of today I am something I’ve always wanted to be, ever since I was a little kid: A PONY.
No, wait, no. That’s not it.
Oh yes. I am now an Official Freelance Writer! Which I always wanted to be, ever since pretty much ever. It has all paid off: all the staying up nights and reading, the thorough degradation of my eyesight, the fact that most of the letters on my computer keyboard are totally worn off. I’M A REAL WRITER NOW, THERE SHOULD BE COOKIES. Laud me with cookies. I could murder some double-chocolate-chip cookies right now.
It happened because of Riley. Of course it did. That dog saved me so many times, gave me so many things, and even now she’s gone, good things are still happening to me because of her. (Somewhere Saint Riley is saying, “That’ll do, boss. Happy birthday.” Because, like in that movie Babe, I was the boss of the house.)
It feels good, somehow, to get that story out into the wider world, to have so many people read it (although I feel a tad guilty about all the crying I inspired), to see that incredible outpour of shared love and loss, all those stories about all those people and their Best Dogs Ever (but you know, every dog is The Best Dog Ever). It’s like saying to the world: Riley happened. She existed. She was important, and she was loved, and she was taken away from me way too soon, and I will raise a gigantic stink about it if I want to, because that is all I can do for her now. She’d be happy with that; girlie always did like a good ruckus.
There’s a quote I found that helps, so much. I wish I know who wrote it.
“It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.”
If that’s true — and I want to believe it is, even though it is hard for me to believe in things, I want that — then it means that no matter what, where we go or what becomes of us, we always have a little piece of them with us, and they always have a little piece of us with them. So we’re never alone, never lost, never left behind.
Here’s a thing I wrote somewhere else, that I wanted to save here:
I remember lying on the grass in my back yard with her, one spring day years ago, when the air was warm but the ground was cool. She was having an uncharacteristic moment of calmness, flopped out on her side. I was on my back with my head on her chest. The sky was blue. My bare feet were cool in the grass. Like that song says: Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens.
I don’t know what I believe in anymore, but that’s what I want, if I can have anything happen to me after I die. I want a cool-warm day with sunshine and shade trees and bare feet and all the animals I’ve loved so much, and nothing at all happening to us, because everything already has.
Next… what happens next is, of course, Logan will do the same thing as Riley, and as Buster and Piglet and Sadie before, and turn a piece of me into a piece of himself, by whatever magic dogs do. Along the way he’ll tug my sleeves and drive me crazy and make me yell and sometimes be disgusting and sleep on my legs and fight me when it’s bath time and be as wonderful a dog as he can possibly be. I’ll write about it. That’s what happens next.