I have laughed on many occasion driving by the veterinary hospital in Chino, which has a taxidermy shop right next door. I think today I am beginning to appreciate why people would do this to their beloved pet.
I’m going to bury him soon, I text to my partner, who left this morning to take his daughter to college. I just don’t want to not be able to see him.
And that is it. I need to be able to see him, to reach out and touch him. He lies in a grave that I filled in halfway. I went out just a little while ago, moved back the earth with my hands until I could see the fur from his head, and gently placed a heart-shaped, slate-colored rock and a piece of quartz that I found in the creek where we walked many times this past month on either side of his head. I covered him up, dug him out again just to feel his fur, and covered him up once more.
Walking back to the house, I wondered if I should have put the heart somewhere else. Should I lay it right by his heart? I told him I was giving him my heart when I placed the rock beside him, but was that enough for him to really know?
In the end, I am left with questions and no wolf pup. I remember pulling ticks off of him when we first brought him home. Were those the ones? Had he been sick long before we adopted him? I think the beautiful walks we took in the Granite Dells where we live. I think of him running with joy around the dog park, his enormous, fluffy tail curled all the way up.
As I sprinkled soil over him, I spoke to him.
Please stay with me, I whispered. I still need you.
I think he may still be with me. I know his soul chose to live; it was his body that was not able to follow.
I took a shower, my body shuddering from waves of grief and tears. I remembered how he would lie just outside the door. He always needed to be near me, to make sure I was ok. As I stepped out of the shower, I felt that he was there still, keeping me safe. And for a moment, I felt a little less alone.