Yesterday, I was reminded by a friend that I hadn’t written in my blog in awhile. Quite a long while, as it turns out. I appreciated it. My blog has a feature that tells me if people are LOOKING at it. There’s no feature to tell me if people are ENJOYING it. So for someone to actually ask me to write more meant a lot.
And it was ironic because I’ve had something on my mind that I knew would eventually need to be written. It’s healthy catharsis for me to put things that trouble me, or concern me, or amaze me, or even amuse me into words.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been forced to think about passages – the comings and goings that happen all around us day after day, week after week, year after year. Friends, family, thoughts, plans, jobs, houses, opportunities, successes, failures, hopes, dreams, tragedies, pets. They come to us, go around us, pass through us. All the time.
Over the course of the last couple of months, I have watched two good friends leave Charlotte and move elsewhere.
Over the course of those same months, I have been introduced to two new people, one who recently moved to Charlotte, and another who has lived within a mile of me for 15 years, both of whom I believe will become friends.
Just yesterday, I had a journal that I had lost two years ago appear in my mailbox. In it were plans, ideas, thoughts and even a song I’d forgotten I’d written. I don’t know who had it, or where it was all this time. But it was gone, and then it was back. I made my way without it, and it waited somewhere for me to come back to it.
And then there was Piccadilly Joy. She arrived on the scene May 26, 2003. It just so happened that her birthday was my birthday, too. After the loss of Elmo, our Basset Hound of 13 years the previous fall, Piccadilly was more than just a welcomed addition to our home. She became part of our home. She made her way from Roanoke, VA, stopped briefly in Charlotte and moved with us to Greenville, SC.
She lived with us only eighteen months. But they were eighteen of the most event-filled, action-packed, prayer-filled, white-knuckled, tongue-biting and heart-tugging months of our lives. In the end, we decided to make our way to Mexico for a year-long mission with an orphanage, and she made her way back to Charlotte and her forever home with Phil, Michelle, Will and Corey Stillman.
Two weeks ago, she got sick. First, she stopped eating. Then she had something that looked like an inner ear infection…or some kind of virus…or possibly, but not very likely, a tumor. She roller-coastered for eight days until finally, it became apparent. It was a brain tumor. It was advanced. And the possibility of any kind of recovery was slim at best. On Friday, February 12, at 5:15 p.m., she crossed over.
I don’t know what to make of passages. They happen around us all the time, but it seems as if the passages we remember most are those tinged with sadness.
We remember the day a friend leaves more than we remember the day we met.
We recall the end of a high-school athlete’s career more than we remember the day she first picked up a glove, or a racket, or tied on a pair of running shoes.
We dwell on walking out of a home for the last time more than we celebrate walking into a new home in a new location.
I’m not going to do that with Piccadilly. I’m not going to dwell on the end. I’m going to remember the spitfire of a dog, glistening in the eyes, with ears thrown back and running at greyhound speed across the back lawn of the Stillmans home. I’m going to remember her bounding through the woods, in and out of sight as she went over some logs and under others. I’m going to remember black eyes focused, a black nose inhaling knowledge, straight tail and one raised front leg in classic setter post – rigid, straight and still – showing me her almost hidden quarry. I’m going to remember her running at me full speed, skidding to a stop in about three feet like a character out of one of the other Chuck Jones’ cartoons.
I’m going to remember her on the trail to Raven Cliff Falls, and on all the trails through Cleveland Park.
I’m not going to remember the times I pulled out of the driveway and watched her wonder where I was going. I’m going to remember the times I pulled into the driveway and watched her run around the perimeter of the yard in complete, unbounded excitement that I had returned from a journey that could have been days, hours or just minutes.
I’m going to remember the way she would go totally nuts with happiness when the Stillmans would return from vacation and pick her up to go home – how she would jump in the back of their car and ride away, anticipating what awaited her in that huge back lawn.
I’m going to remember a bird dog on a velvet pillow, or a UT blanket, or a sofa in a playroom, or a big blue bed with Piccadilly embroidered on it.
And I’m going to look to a passage of my own, somewhere on the horizon, with a little less apprehension, confident she’ll be there with a drooling basset hound, a smiling golden retriever and a big orange cat standing alongside.