beckycochrane [userpic]

It's never long enough

March 9th, 2010 (04:24 am)

current mood: sad

Rainy days and Mondays don't always get me down, but I have to admit to feeling a little melancholy yesterday. March 8 is my lifelong friend Riley's birthday, and no matter how silence sometimes stretched between us over the years of our friendship, we always made every effort to call each other on our birthdays. It's been two years since he died, not enough time for me to forget my impulse to reach for the phone to say happy birthday and catch up.

When I talk about my friends who've died, it's never a bid for sympathy. Sometimes I don't talk about people because it makes me squirm that anyone might think I'm exploiting their memories for attention. In actuality, though I think of those lost all the time, it's rarely with sadness for myself. I have too many joyful, funny, and tender memories. My regrets are that I feel they were cheated of time and the world was cheated of them.

I've said it on here before, and I've said it in person so many times to other people: It's important to acknowledge loss. For our own mental health. To recognize and honor their lives and our feelings. I always think of the title of George Whitmore's book Someone Was Here. We need to say that. We, and those we lose, deserve for us to say, "Someone was here."

On behalf of two people dear to me, I want to recognize their someones who were here.

Friend and cousin Ron contacted me on Friday to let me know that it was time to say goodbye to Kipper. I never got to meet Kipper. I only knew him through Ron's stories and photos, and I understood their profound friendship. Ron wrote to me about him:

...he had more personality than any other dog or human I've ever known. A definite character, I could always tell how he was feeling.

Forever clicking across the kitchen floor, wiping his cold nose juice on me and stealing kisses at every turn. He was supposed to leave me two years ago when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer...coincidentally at the same time I was dealing with my own cancer. But he stuck around...I truly believe it was because he knew how much I needed him. Toward the end, his bladder cancer had progressed, previous nerve damage had become worse causing him trouble when he walked, his eyesight was awful, he was nearly deaf, he had some arthritis, and was starting to have some anxiety issues. And yet, he was happy. I know he was, I could always tell. Not in serious pain. I don't think it ever even crossed his mind to give up. He definitely taught me more than I ever taught him. He made it seventeen years...he had a good run. And I never knew I could love anyone as much as I love him.

Thank you for sharing Kipper and his funny ways with me over the years, Ron. You two were so fortunate to have been in each other's lives.

On Sunday, another dog slipped gently away as he rested next to his best friend. I got to see Bailey many times over the seventeen years he spent with my brother David. David's an outdoorsman, happiest when he's somewhere camping and hiking in remote mountains and the high desert. He used to joke that if it weren't for Bailey, he'd never find his way back to his truck. Bailey was always game to hit the road, and if my brother was visiting and left in the truck without him, Bailey was not the kind of dog who'd curl up and sleep. He waited and kept watch, knowing his place was in the seat next to his fellow traveler. He tolerated the rest of us and even our dogs, but he didn't play and he didn't cuddle. He was a one-person dog and he never let you forget it. That's why it meant all the more to me one Thanksgiving when we all converged at my mother's in Utah. Bailey actually lay down on the floor nestled against my legs while my mother, sister, and I sewed on the AIDS Quilt panel we made for my friend Tim R. Bailey was there when it counted.

Our family will miss him very much. Thank you, David, for bringing him into our lives.


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