I regret, Sweet Melissa, that I haven’t taken the time in a very long while to provide a missive to you. These scribbles do enrich my day and, yes, they serve to pull those oh so many wonderful memories of your life with us out of that precious space in my mind where I’ve placed them; they emerge bright and beautiful with your indomitable spirit at the forefront, then so persistent, so noble, so…singular. Yes, it has been five years since you left us. Please know we loved you then, we love you now.
Let me tell you that Sarah is still with us, still maintaining her own indomitability as you Malamutes are apt to do. She remains a joy in our–David’s and my–lives. No, Sweet Melissa, she has not replaced you. She is simply (or gloriously) a loving, giving constant in our lives. She does, like you did, remind us that things of supposed great import to the world, pale against what we have come to know as the inveterate worth of dogs.
I suppose I should tell you that Berkeley Lake –the circumference of which we–you and me, Sweet Melissa–would run every morning (little did I know then that arthritis had infested your joints, and that probably every single step you took was taken in agony) has become a veritable wasteland. They, the city has drained the lake and have apparently hired contractors to do what was encompassed in the now years-old bond issue that promised so much for the lake, the park. That is fine. But, I do wonder, now that lake is drained, where the Night Heron sings. Ah, yes… I’m sure the critters who called Berkeley Lake home, or just tarried there for a while have found other sites for their particular respite, their sustenance.
Oh, forgive me–I know you, as well as Sarah–do wonder why such nonsense should enfold. But, I must tell you that the little female squirrel who first approached us almost two years ago (she was unafraid, she was perhaps unlearned in the ways of most human beings) as a very small, newly born innocent, and who inched up to my hand in which I held a peanut, is still here, visiting our back porch at least twice, sometimes three times a day. Yes, I give her almonds, peanuts, cashews and macadamia nuts. She eats from my hand. She is absolutely unafraid of me. Indeed, when I took this pic, my camera chose to flash its strobes against her tarry on the roof of the shed. She didn’t even blink with the unsettling flashes. She is getting fat, now that it is fall and (she may be pregnant)–surely she knows better than us–that winter is chugging this way. She is fattening up. I’m sorry, Sweet Melissa, but this gives me joy, too. Sarah shares what I’m sure would be your response to this “idiocy”–for heaven’s sake, they are just tree rats!–with what I know you would not so much discern as a distaste for me feeding the little critter, but rather a distaste for the attention I give to her. As I have told Sarah, she is still my “main squeeze”–and feeding the little critter is, well, just incidental to the simple gifts life has brought to me. Sarah doesn’t buy it. I suspect you wouldn’t either.
The Autumn Blaze maple we planted in the back yard atop your earthly remains has begun to show its stuff. All the leaves will soon turn, the beauty of such a thing so reminiscent of you, dear heart. It is a robust tree, now–after five years–asserting its intent to surge upward and outward. I do believe I may have to trim it back a bit before the first snowfall. Each glance I give to the tree provides only a dip into that space and time when you were our “perfect princess.” And you were perfect, Sweet Melissa. So perfect. But–as I believe David would say–you knew that. You had a sense of yourself as potent as the inclination of a tree to rise and spread, quite ambivalent to the mere caprices of the human animal.
I do not believe that I’ve told you about my horse (another critter that I’m sure you would not take kindly to) who has, for the last two years, consumed my time, my attention, my love. Suffice it to say, this little boy, has become another singular joy in my life, even though he has dumped me (bucked me off him) twice, the second time resulting in the very real possibility I would end my days on this earth from the injuries inflicted.
But, I remain committed to his well-being. And, even though my trainer had suggested I never ride again–even the gentlest of horses stumble on occasion–I pursue a future for this little guy, beyond just retiring him and classifying him as a “pet.” Horses deserve a chance to be useful, productive; they deserve a future full of possibilities. And, to that end, my trainer has delved into the possibility my little guy, Shy, might become a jumper–a horse ensconced in the joy and adventure of leaping wooden posts, of flying, just for a moment, across and over the wooden barriers set out for just such a thing. I pray he takes well to this new adventure. I know that I will probably never ride him again. I regret that, Sweet Melissa. But, hell, you already know that.
Sleep, play, run with the rabbits, Sweet Melissa. I suppose I envy what joy you are experiencing at this time. I do not wish to join you anytime soon. Still, there remains my urgent wish, my mantra, that at the end of my days on this earth I will see you again; I will see you free of the arthritis that plagued you; I will see you as I remember you–that indomitable presence that so enriched the world, our world, our little world where you insisted that you were Sweet Melissa, equal to none, champion of our bare understanding of things more potent, more intense, more important than that thing we, humans, call ego.
Be well, Sweet Melissa.
We loved you then, we love you now.