The start of the New Year always gets me retrospective, introspective and a lot more “-tives.” This year, of all things, my thoughts turn to Shakespeare and Romeo, our two dogs. Not only is this our first New Year without both of them, but it was exactly two months ago that Romeo left us.
It’s funny, what memories that stick in your mind.
We have a collage of family photos in a giant picture frame. It has many pictures of the “boys” in it, covering most of their lives. Every now and then, I catch myself studying a couple of them. Romeo was such a cute puppy, and Shakespeare had such soft fur when he was young. Of course, Romeo did tend to shed a lot, and both of them hated to have their nails trimmed. Oh, and giving Shakespeare a bath could be quite the challenge!
Then there are the old toys still kicking around the apartment. Yeah, some of them belonged to the boys, although Juliet pretty much made mincemeat of most of them. I saw a couple of the toys when I went by the old house last week. My wife was out of town, and I was up that way to meet with a writing client. As I was early, I thought I’d stop by the old place and give it the “once over”; make sure we’d gotten all our stuff. As I pulled into the driveway, I kept expecting to see Romeo at the window of the playroom, that big old collie head of his sort of hanging there between the curtains. When I fumbled with the key at the door, I could have sworn I heard some snuffling and grunting. The boys always got so anxious when we took too long to come in.
The place was stuffy and stinky. When we lived there, I always thought it had a bit of a dog smell to it. Some people don’t like that, but I always felt a slight dog smell was rather nice; gave it a feeling of home.
The place wasn’t a home any longer.
The water dish and toys were where I’d left them, and I did find a couple things I wanted. There was my “#1 Daddy” mug; some nice long pull chains for our ceiling fan, and a few other items. I paused at the back window to look over the backyard. I could see their spot.
I went out to pay my final respects. There was still one of their teddy bears sort of sitting between them. Somehow, I doubt I’ll be back; the bank is pretty determined to take the place. I hope the new owners will take of them, at least respect their spot.
Now the New Year is upon me and I’m supposed to look forward to the coming year. Funny, but all I seem able to do is look back. Just over a year for one and two months for the other, two different timeframes, yet each holds the same meaning, a loss. The pain does ease with the passage of time, but it still hurts, especially for dear Romeo. That, I guess, is expected; two months, eight weeks, sixty days, not that long a time in the scale of a person’s heart.
Some would say I should be moving beyond such feelings by now. Yeah, but there’s that word: “should” that carries a degree of ambiguity to it, not certainty.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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