Peeps, we all have that one friend that we think really cares about us. Okay, some may feel like there is no one, because they have been hurt by people they trusted. But we all still have a yearning to be understood. To have someone whose loyalty we can count on. And sometimes that someone is not human. Today we have a guest writer, who wishes to remain anonymous. She is mourning her friend. A non-human friend.
NB: The someone in the image is not Tom. It is courtesy of doggymom.com
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I got the call, they said he was critically ill. I asked for details. He had suddenly grown thin, had lost the urge to eat. The light had gone from his eyes. His days were now spent asleep. They’d tried everything they could, there was no getting back from this one. So I took the first bus home, praying all the while that the curtains wouldn’t draw until I got there.
I felt his absence right from the gate. It was his custom to meet us with glee, happy that we had made it safely back. Today, he wasn’t there, the first tell tale of ominous forthcomings. I walked into the compound, called out his name and he still didn’t show. It was not until I neared the door that I finally saw him, struggling to get to where I was, wobbling, falling as he came. The malady had robbed him of his eyesight. Only the sense of smell and the love for this girl guided him. I waited, grief-stricken, observing the effort expended at doing what he knew best, doing what he had always done, loving relentlessly. He couldn’t make the last two steps and he seemed almost ashamed of his failings. I covered the distance to where he lay, writhing in pain and placed my hand on his furry head, comfortingly, possessively.
There were so many things I wanted to say. The ribs showed, the breathing was labored, the strength was gone. He was a pitiful sight, a ghost of the happy friend I had always known. So I wanted to say some things, hope some things and time was fleeting. The obvious first was to tell him that he was still beautiful; gnarled and bonny and disease-laden but beautiful and loved, very loved. He had loved my family, all the four members therein, with as much tenderness as I do, in his own way. He had stood on guard over us every night for ten solid years, spent all his life protecting and cheering up unfurry beings, pledging loyalty to them, to his last breath. And it would be hollow when he left, for he needed to leave. When I called out his name and he wouldn’t be there to answer and he wouldn’t be at the gate running to meet us every time we came in. and I couldn’t keep the dam from breaking any longer. So I let the words, the memories I couldn’t phrase flow in the tearworks.
He attempted to wag his tail, as if to say he knew, he understood. It was not in the words I spoke to him that afternoon that truth surfaced, truth had been carved every time I was happy to see him, every time I chased him round the compound, every time I arrived home and called out his name, every time we made his food and served him. It takes more than the last five minutes of an existence to offload 10 years worth of love and friendship, the offloading is a daily thing, letting them know how much they add value to our lives every God-gifted day. And in those last seconds, all we do is sum up what we have been saying all along and hope that those words, the affection, balances out the pain and agony in their bones.
So he breathed his last. Tom did. He was old, but the age hardly showed. Disease has a way of bringing to the fore the hidden, the imperceptible, a way of drawing on the weak points and highlighting them in neon. So, thanks to his age, the ability of his body to fight the infection was overpowered. There he lay, an ordinary dead dog by any estimation, but not to this girl. He was more than a canine, he was a gift, a manual in imparting joy, in making others’ lives lighter, a friend, a legend.
The worth of any living creature’s existence is measured not by the elevations of their IQ, nor the size of their wallet, nor the fame of their exploits, but by the magnitude of their kindnesses, the depth of their mercy, the expanse of their love. So this girl of ordinary height, ordinary weight, average IQ, and a common place face understood, learnt, committed to memory the makings of a legacy, the pathway to extraordinariness.