In exactly a week, it will be three years since my friend and one-time Great Love of My Life, Art, died. A little less than a month from then will be the three-year anniversary of my inheriting Fakedog from Art. Fakedog was living in a kennel in upper New York State while Art had surgery, and he continued to do so for a month after Art’s death, because getting him to Florida turned out to be a major ordeal.
The last time I spent any time with Art, he said he hoped he died before Fakedog did, because he couldn’t bear to lose him. And his wish came true. Art wanted me to have the dog, because he’d seen how I handled big dogs that were scary to most people. It’s a tribute to his family that they jumped through huge hoops to get him to me from New York.
As time passes, it becomes impossible to sustain the level of grief you feel when the loss of a friend, a family member, or a pet is fresh. When their memories begin to fade, your first response is to try to rekindle that level of grief, because it seems like betrayal to have let them slip from your mind. But such is the nature of humans: you can’t do it, even if you try. We are programmed to survive, both physically and emotionally. It isn’t really true that Time heals all wounds, it just forms a scab over them.
So at the least expected moment and in the least expected place, the scab breaks open and a memory leaks through. That’s what happened to me on Friday. I was walking across the parking lot after picking up lunch to go from Crispers, and the lot was wet. I guess they had washed it, because it hadn’t rained, and there were puddles everywhere, some fairly deep. I was carefully picking my way around the puddles in my little black Antonio Melani flats, making sure that water didn’t splash up onto my ankles. Oh God forbid! And suddenly I could hear Art saying, “You are such a GIRL!” I had to stop and laugh out loud.
Of course I’m not really that girly. Anybody who can live with a Rottweiler and a Doberman has a few guts, but Art was your basic man’s man kind of guy. He didn’t care about clothes–his or yours. With him, it was more about who you were as a person. Very few people can truthfully claim that attitude, although many try.
So here we have the blessing of memory. It can be a curse, but without it, I wouldn’t have had that great moment of laughter in the middle of the day on Friday. Thank you, Art. I owe you.