Yesterday I released Ally to the winds, her rest and perhaps eventually to her next mission. Ma & Pete were present to help me maintain my resolve and see through giving Ally the ephemeral gift of peace in the fleeting moments it was within our grasp.
Ally was not my dog. She belonged only to herself. Each person on whom she bestowed herself had their own relationship with her, a relationship in which i had no say and mattered not.
My friend Ann once told me
“everyone grows up in their own family, one family is never the same family to the members therein.”
So it was with Ally. I didn’t know how much she meant to others until i debarked the plane from San Antonio to two voicemails from my brother Brett–the second necessary because he got choked up and crying too much to speak on the first.
During this period, I’ve had people say “you’re strong” or “i’m proud of you” or “you gave Ally so much.” None of these are as simply true as they might appear:
- –If I ever for a moment had the capacity for strength, it must be that the vessel has been slowly filled over the years by all who might read this–mostly though by Ma & Pete.
- –If then the vessel were filled, i still needed the time and place and perspective in which to drink of it. The place was a house in central home-state Texas with no cell reception. The perspective came from family circulating in the porch breeze, a creek filled with snapping turtles, water moccasins, catfish and scrub oaks in which called calf to her mother and gunshots rang in another quarter. My un-worried presence there was possible only because of Peper. She took Ally into her house instead of the planned Dog Country Club. When a raging UTI took visible hold of Ally on the second day, she tended to her day and night.
- –If there were to be any pride felt, it must belong to those who made doing the right thing possible, not to the irrelevant agent of its doing.
- –Of any gifts I might have given to Ally, they pale in comparison to those she gave me. In the room of Ally’s death bed, Pete told the vet “She saved his life.” She didn’t pull me from a roiling river or go for help Lassie-style after I’d fallen into a well. She came into my life though, after a four-year set of experiences in Ranger School, the Korean DMZ and field trials in the Mojave Desert. I was estranged from everything and everyone i knew, and from whom i had been before. I’d resolved to live not past thirty-six years. Ally brought me out of those places. She brought me into light spaces where i found my daughter standing. She gave me her full lifespan.
A person described Ally as an old soul. She said
“She’s coming back as a person.”
“Maybe her dog form this life was a penance, because she’d certainly been a person before.”
I argued that point and said
“No, she was just a being with certain qualities that i needed in my life. There was only one shape in which i might recognise those qualities, and that shape was that of a dog.”
It was up to Ma & Pete to find her. With their wise eyes and six months’ looking, they did