Wednesday, May 16, 2007

May's Sad Thoughts

May's been a tough month for me for a long time. Professionally, of course, it's finals time, and I'm buried in grading.

But before I knew anything of grading, May was the month C died. With C's death, I lost one of the wisest friends I've ever known, someone who made me realize there was a level of understanding so far beyond my own I could hardly imagine. It's been more than 20 years now, and still, some of the memories are so sharp, the memories of the stones in the walkway from the hospital when M and I left after visiting for the last time, the smell in the room, the mere thought of which nauseates me.

And May is the month I put my Packboy to "sleep." He was old, and in pain, and probably more ready than I was. I miss the total joy and anticipation with which he greeted every door, expecting something wonderful just beyond, no matter what or where the door was. I miss the way he most loved to drink from a river when he was in it up to his neck, and the way he loved to go for walks. I miss driving everywhere with him, coming back from whatever errand to find him in the driver's seat of the car looking out the window as if it were his turn to drive.
He traveled across country four times, once by plane, three times with me in the car. It's a pain in some ways to travel with a dog, but also a special pleasure. Each stop is a new adventure and there's always some child who really wants to pet the dog; he was the perfect dog for kids to pet, reliable, gentle, big enough to seem to encourage hugs, and totally happy to make a friend.
He was one of those dogs who knew he was a dog, and figured people were just inadequate dogs who somehow managed to control access to food and to open and close doors. He didn't choose to come live with me, but he accepted me when people made the decision for him.
I've never had such a mutual relationship with a dog, never had a sense that the dog felt responsible for me, and depended on me at the same time. The relationship was a pack more than a family, on his terms, and it worked for me, too. I was honored to be his pack leader, even if I was woefully inadequate at peeing appropriately or keeping loud storm noises at bay.
If I were half the person he was a dog, or half the person he thought I was, I'd be a really good person.
Something today reminded me of the Mayness, and I'm sad as if it were 20 years ago, or two.


  1. Packboy looks like he was mostly lab... they are especially good at being in a pack with humans. He sounds like an amazing dog, one you can't easily replace. My parents had one named Dixie.

    Take care, May will be over soon.

  2. You ARE a really good person. You have been and continue to be an invaluable friend to me. I'm sorry that you are feeling sad. Much love. /hug

  3. Oh Bardiac, that was such a touching memorial that I feel like I knew your dog. This kind of made me laugh: he figured people were just inadequate dogs who somehow managed to control access to food and to open and close doors. That sounds like Wiley, too.

    You gave your dog a good life, and he gave you one in return. May he rest in peace.

  4. A lovely tribute, as Dr. Virago said.

    I know how much it can hurt to miss a dog. And a friend, too, in May. I'm so sorry you're feeling sad. Hugs to you.

  5. ((Bardiac))

    That was a lovely post, B - I'm sorry that May can bring such poignant memories but I'm also happy that you had C and your dog in your life - even if it wasn't for long enough.

  6. *hug*

    It sounds like you were a great friend to both C and your dog. You are a great person.

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  8. Inside, Yes, Packboy was a lab. Supposedly purebred. And he had all the best traits of the breed in terms of friendliness and being easy to get along with.

    Christine, thank you. /hugs

    Thank you, Dr. Virago. He really did take good care of me!

    Hilaire, It's weird how much dogs can add to one's life.

    Medieval Woman, you hit it exactly. I was so lucky to have had C and Packboy in my life, in very different ways. Without C, my life wouldn't be what it is today, not at all.

    MWWAK, thanks. /blush