I would like to show you where I used to live. I don’t live anymore in the sense of physical life as you understand it but I live in another dimension that gives me some flexibility of movement. From here I can gently re-enter the earth plane, almost like a whisper, tugging at my mom until she is still enough to sense me.
I share this not for her but for all of you who seemed to know so much about me from my mom’s words and pictures. I read the good words you wrote when I left and was touched because I was not a famous dog or a winner or a champion of any sort, just a deeply loved girl who had the luck to land in the right home. I want to show you the best parts of my life, which means where I lived because my home was my life. Take a look around the room - the living room, the kitchen, the family room –all those flaws you see in the walls and ceiling are really welcoming caves where my spirit has settled. I’m in every crack in the wall, every fold of fabric, every scratch on the furniture. I’m stuck in her necklaces, in the laundry basket, underneath the couches -- in small tufts, big dust balls and little knots -- in the bathroom mat which mom hasn’t taken up to wash yet. It is too hard to shake me away, she says. Whoever buys this house will find me embedded even in the shadows.
Pretty simply, I loved my life. I had opportunities to be more than just a housedog but didn’t like the spotlight and preferred instead to curl up on a soft bed or chair and live as a companion which I did, the best companion, and everyone knew it. I was the baby sitter of all the other dogs because I was so trusted. I was the nurse when mom had surgery. See over there? There used to be a different couch and that’s where I helped my grandfather who also had cancer. I did healing touch on him.
This is my special chair, a big black tufted leather chair and a half, really. Mom brought it home on Christmas Eve two years ago and as soon as she put it in the room I knew it was mine. She started to say, “Here, Ingrid, this is for you” and before she could finish the sentence I had climbed in and curled up. I rarely left that chair and no other dog could go in it ever. Well, it wasn’t just that they couldn’t – they wouldn’t because they knew I had my eye on them. Every day I would rest there for hours and lay my chin on the arm and fall asleep. Now the whole room has been rearranged,. My chair is suddenly in the corner on the other side of the room with the floor lamp behind it. Mom kept seeing the chair where it was, crying over its emptiness. She swirled the furniture around as if a big wind had shifted it. But I see what she does before she goes to the bedroom to sleep. She turns off the light and sits in the chair silently for a minute.
Now in the living room under the love seat you will see some of my toys that are still there. I would carry them into the backyard and on the way back to the house mom would say, “Ingrid pick up your toy” and I would carry it in usually, but more than a couple of times when I didn't the lawnmower mowed my toys and the next day there was shredded pink pig and green frog all over the grass.
I knew it would not be a quick trip to the vet. I knew I was going to die later that day. We both knew for a long time I’d be leaving, just not which day or exactly how. She thought it would be the cancer and prayed with me every night to ”go gentle.” But I didn’t.
It was probably better this way -- sudden, with no time to think, no messy lingering.
There on the dining room table is a picture of me taken at the vet’s office just minutes before I closed my eyes for the last time. Look: I wasn’t scared, although I couldn’t move, although I couldn’t stand by myself. I was smiling,looking up. If you ever want to know what love looks like, that’s it, my face, where it seems that all the love in the world had collected. You see the crystallization of love every time you give your heart to a dying dog.
Beside the table is the wee-wee pad that sits like a rug. It's for those little rescue boys who are sweet but ill-mannered. In my last couple of years I’d wake up in the middle of the night, use it, then quietly climb back to into bed. But I never positioned myself correctly in the center, and every morning, Mom cleaned up the overflow, sighing,”Oh, Ingrid,” loud enough for me to hear.
This house has solid and sturdy and cool walls (knock on them), but so few windows that it always felt dark. I never sat on the couch and looked out at the world, never sprawled against the patio doors to watch lizards or hear the wind. When the other dogs would bark at someone walking by, I hardly reacted, especially lately , with my voice hoarse from age. I didn’t like to use it, an unwelcome reminder of impermanence, Mom said.
I was comfortable with darkness except at night in the yard where sometimes I froze, not knowing where I was. Mom would walk onto the grass and take me gently by the collar, leading me back to the patio like a slow horse, repeating the whole way home, “I’m here, Ingrid. I’m ‘here.”