What a summer. Talk about having the wind knocked out of you. About a month after I gave birth to the twins at 36 weeks, my very special handsome boy Henry (my oldest golden retriever) decided to pass on his supper one night and there began my nightmare. All my subsequent doctors’ visits and surgical procedures, and adventures in injecting pain killers are well documented at our George and Henry website.
I got Henry when I started grad school in 2004, seems like a million years ago. Just feels like he’s always been there. Grabbing balls out of the chuck it, dropping boulders on my toes, doing jujitsu on my legs while trying to steal a soccer ball, gently babysitting my two year old, torturing anyone who would throw something for him to fetch or catch, cavorting in the river, running in the woods – plume of a tail high in the air. Always, always there. Sweet, loving, gentle, athletic, heartful, and so very, very handsome. I knew from the beginning, after we managed to pull through the red mange he had as a puppy (genetic disease), that he was an angel, honest to God, an angel. I’d only get him for a little while and I’d have to give him back. I knew it. I just didn’t think it’d be this soon. There’s a heavy, deep hole in my heart. The raw and sharp pain of loss lessens a little each day, but the ache of missing him feels like it will never go away. He’s everywhere. Here on the farm, in my car, around town, in the eyes of my other dogs, and two weeks from now, I’ll see him everywhere I go on Nantucket. Aside from River Rock, that was his most favorite place on earth.
At any rate, I felt like writing about him and I wanted to share this little story about him: This is a photo of our chimney. The stonemasons we hired to work on our house are two highly skilled brothers. This story involves them, but first, let me set it up a bit.
We built our home over the course of a year, basically the first year of our first son’s life. So Henry was going through a big change – he was learning to share me a little (with the baby), and he was doing so well. Mainly because he’s such a likeable easy going guy. There was a team of three guys who built our home, but we had lots of subs in and out during this time also. Well, once Henry figured out he could sucker almost anybody on our building team to toss him a ball or a stick or even a rock, he was over at the jobsite almost every single day, rain or shine. He’d follow Christie over every morning after the walk and he’d stay long after she left.
Here’s where the stonemasons come in. Both fellas grew particularly fond of Henry and would entertain him for hours, throwing sticks, rocks, balls, whatever, and sharing their lunches with him. They had him running quite alot. A good portion of Henry’s arthritis might be attributed to this relationship. At any rate, the stone masons were really impressed with the size and sheer number of rocks Henry would bring up from the River. They joked that he was adding to their pile (all the rocks they used were quarried from our river bed). One day they were so chuffed they decided to use this one rock in their work on the chimney. In fact, they made sure that when they placed it, it would be low enough that it would always be at Henry’s eye-level. He could trot by and see his contribution to the chimney anytime. It’s a beautiful pinkish hued River Rock in the shape of a heart. And that’s my Henry. Not only did he get me, but he got to me, and he got to everyone else, too. He was a very special dog – this is his rock, it hides behind the hydrangea now.
I found this poem last night that hits close. I don’t know who Holly Gray is but I feel her grief. It’s awful quiet around here.
To our Golden Retriever, Shockoe
I sit and try to write the words, I want your heart to hear.
Hoping to find some comfort, in the fact that your not here.
I look out into the open field, that you once occupied,
Knowing now that field is empty, because my love, you’ve died.
I do believe with all my heart, that your soul has gone to be,
With all the other angel dogs, that you were meant to see.
We will have to stay behind, until God calls us too,
So do not be afraid, that he’s only called for you.
The water is still, in the pond that you played,
And your bed is so empty, where your pretty head laid.
Our bed is to empty, where you once laid between,
the two people who LOVED you and now only dream,
That one day our eyes will shut one last time,
and you will come greet us, angel of mine.
Until then, I’ll keep trying to see through my tears,
with memories you left us, to reflect through the years.
We’ll never forget one minute we spent,
of loving and laughing, of places we went.
And I dread the day that your scent disappears,
for it’s “proof” to me, Shockie, that you were just here!
But one day will come, when we’ll start to see through,
the pain of the moment, and remember just “you”.
Now you go and play, and look down when you can,
remembering we love you, and this isn’t the end.
-Holly W. Gray, Shockie’s mommy