Tuesday, March 6, 2018

For Casey's Mom - On Remembrance

For my friend Andrea - on the remembrance of dogs of past - A Chapter from The Book of Barkley

CHAPTER 49 - Ghosts

After the death of Barkley, I received this note from a female friend, a sailor and adventurer with an indomitable spirit: “When I was 18, and lost my lifelong companion, Sally - with me since birth, a small black and white cocker mix, my best and sometimes only friend, my soul-mate. She loved me, I believe, more perfectly than I could ever have loved her in my inexperience. When she was 18 she died and I grieved and I cried and I still get tears in my eyes when I think of that sweet little soul who gave me so much. So, no, you never get over it, I do not know anyone who has loved a dog and has said goodbye that gets over it. The pain? As you know, it eases, it becomes a sweet memory with time, you still get tears in your eyes, but the smiles and laughter at the remembered fun and antics of your 4-legged Pal returns to you. My mother is part Iroquois, and although a lifelong Catholic, carried with her some of the mythology handed down in her family. She knew my grief was raw and painful and that only time would help heal the wound in my heart. She said to me ‘Sally walks with you, and with time, she will allow you to feel her there beside you. During the first time of grief, you are blind to her, and that is as it should be, so she will know she is no longer in This World, but now walks in the Spirit World. When you are ready, she will help ease your pain by showing you memories and helping you laugh again when you are ready to see that she is not lost to you, but always remains a part of you. Your tears will then be tears of joy at your good fortune at having known such a one."
Those words brought me much comfort, even as I did not dream of him. Sleep through the night was finally occurring, even as I woke, expecting to feel the touch of cold snoot against my hand: "Get up, Mom; get up, Mom it's time for Dog Food again!" But those first few weeks, there were no dreams. Last night, alone while my husband was on the road, one finally came. In my dream, I got up from sleep, wandered out into the hall and there he was, standing there in the bright morning light. I knew I was dreaming, and I also knew he was gone from this world, I stared at what, to me in my slumbering musings was a ghost Barkley. I felt tears well up, then I noticed that look on his face, a look of guilt and somewhat pride, an, "Oh No, look what I just did!” and "Wow, that's the biggest one yet," all in one expression. There in the shadowed corners of the room, where the rug was indelibly stained from such earlier occurrences was a big fresh pile of dog vomit. Ghost Barkley had come back to leave me a little gift.
I woke up, to an empty room and clean floors, laughing as, from outside, the sound of the winged birds of morning began. I hope he will come to me in future dreams, but if not, I will not remember the dog barf, dreamed or otherwise, the accidents, the dog hair, chewed clothing, and the remnants of the only expensive pair of shoes I ever bought. I will remember him, standing there in the light with the reconciled luminous-less of angels in stained glass, their form, a four-legged one, lacking wings, but not their saving Grace. The light upon him was so bright, that when I looked at it, the body of the dog and face had clarity, almost brilliance, but without form or dimension, no longer animal, no longer flesh and heart and bone and structured metal, but simply the brilliant inherent capacity to love as fully and as freely as possible. That is the way I wish to remember him. His Light.
As I come home tonight, I understand that he is not here. Still, as I step up the steps, I desperately want to hear the soft "woof" of a black lab, waiting in the kitchen for me to step in. But I can only approach, in that utter quiet that is now the house, sensing those who are absent who inhabited this place but exist now as only ghosts of my past, living on the breath of memory. I stand outside the door, hearing the hushed wind, hand on the doorknob, hesitant to open the door to every memory, more hesitant to leave them behind. I stand there silently, my presence not detected by dogs forever silent, motionless, trying to blend in with the house, the dark wood and trees, listening to the living presence of a home, all the lives and love and heartache that went into it, that formed these four walls, that now form me.
I listen, as a churchgoer does, to chants in ancient languages that no one understands, but listens to anyway, the words a peace that flows like water. There is no bark but that of the trees, and the baleful sound of a wind that speaks the name of one departed. I listen for things I'd dream of, if only I could sleep. I open up the door to go on in. I have no words for what I am feeling. I have no name for the quiet that waits inside. But that is OK. There are no words for the shafts of light between the trees; of the trinity of earth and sky and water. There are no names for the bones that lie in quiet mourning, bringing riches to the earth. There are no names for the rocks that direct a stream’s flow, for the fur and leaves that line an eagle's nest. Yet they are, and always will be. Strong. Necessary. Waiting. - L.B. Johnson


  1. Thank you, that's beautiful! I feel my Scribbles and Cinderella from time to time, and I know they're still with me. Cinderella had a paw in sending Jessie to me, and I see her joyfully waving her legs in the air whenever Jessie rolls on her back. My favorite quote is, "Every time a dog dies, it takes a little piece of your heart and leaves some of its in return. One day, my heart will be all dog, and I will be as kind and loving as they are."

    Casey's (and Scribbles's & Cinderella's) Momma

    1. I really felt Abby was led to us, we were going to wait for adoption as it had been so recently we had lost Barkley and my only brother, but I saw her picture online with the Lab Rescue and she just melted my heart. She's been the most joyous little dog. We not sure what she is mixed with, she's smaller than most Labs with longer fur and a bushy tail but whatever it is it IS love.

  2. Mom says your words resonate loud and clear with her and are so true. We have four precious Angels now, and each of them remains forever in her heart. The ache will always be there, but the joy of having shared time with them is very comforting.

    Woos - Lightning, Misty, and Timber

  3. So beautifully written!

    Keep Calm & Bark On!

    Murphy & Stanley

  4. This post brought tears running down my checks and a deep lump in my throat. You put into words the same things I have felt at the loss of extra special dogs who still remain a steadfast resident in my heart.

    1. Thank you. I always warn people that buy The Book of Barkley, that the first chapter will have you crying, but there was so much joy in the majority of it, all those memories being made.


Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on Abby the Senior rescue Lab, who we adopted in 2014.

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