Isaac took his final deep breath in the valley behind his dad’s house, which is the equivalent of a half a city block from our house. Right in the middle of his homes. It was, dare I say, a beautiful vista. A sublime Saturday in October with the dancing sunlight streaming through the colorful leaves. Before that day, I hadn’t spent very much time down there; a walk with Phillip when we first started dating, him showing me his grandparents property; and many bike rides past it with Isaac where we would look down upon the swamp and remark how lovely it was, down there, beyond the guardrail. Somewhere I always thought deserved exploring but just didn’t happen beyond minimal browsing.
When we were looking for Isaac, as he told us right where he was I. This moment of despair, a moment we fully believed we could rescue him from, I still recall how utterly beatific it was, as we called out his name, as we tried to get to him, to love him up, to let him know everything would be ok. I had on stupid shoes and too big of jeans I had to keep pulling up, for swamping, and this gave me ample opportunity to pause, to take in the view. There was a running brook that I remember thinking was so beautiful as I stopped to step carefully, thinking then I had time to slightly frolic– the urgency of a rational mind– just enough time to consider “wow, it’s so pretty down here”…
Last year at some point, I’m not sure exactly when, I felt the urge to walk down there again. I’m not sure what I was looking for; but I walked and wept and tried to feel my way toward the space he left behind. My faithful companion beside me, I was struck again by the splendor. I kneeled to catch my breath amidst the bracken and somewhat difficult terrain. Moonshine brought me a ball and the rib age of a deer carcass. I found the tree Isaac sat against and placed these totems there. Some flowers I had brought. I sat and cried and recited the 23rd psalm. “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death”… It was a surreal experience to say the least. I was at once crushed as I was aware of the steady presence faith had in Isaacs short life. I felt the power of that song. I felt steeped like a strong tea in the collective potency of life all around me despite the obvious anguish. It was probably a weird thing to do, but in some way it allowed me to infuse myself in a new story; a story of how I transformed the fear and pain of that place into something I could see held the life force of my beautiful boy. I dont expect anyone to understand the strangeness of that action, but for me it was another pathway to acceptance. I have always been a visual learner and for me this was an intentional effort to absorb information. And there was, for me, a tangible energy in that space. It broke my heart but it also opened it a bit. There was a recognition that he chose a quiet and woodland nook, to try to find or to dissolve his attachment to his place in the world; qualities I tried to instill in him from infancy; the temple of the wilderness. Also that it was a place we DIDNT frequent, though, of course, the lack of rational thought perhaps dismissed that both his father and I, and Joshua, would never go home without passing by that space.
I retreat to Phillip’s back yard frequently, as I come to let his, and Isaac’s beloved dog Ringo out to go potty or to take him along on a hike or to just sit and consider the valley. Moonshine and Ringo are litter mates, siblings, and also Isaac’s beloved pets. I spend as much time with Ringo as I can. Sometimes I just sit out in the chair and let them play and wrestle. And every single time. EVERY SINGLE TIME, I just allow them to BE, they each pause, sit, watch, wait, looking out toward the valley. Whatever it means to animal instinct to what lies beyond in their doggie minds matters not, because I see the faithful companionship and watching over of their beloved master. I cannot tell you how many times I have found them just sitting in a moment of stillness overlooking the direction of Isaac’s final resting spot. I’ve taken many photos and I’ve sat and watched them closely. They simply perch.
They are both highly energetic creatures and this is the antithesis of their inherent character. It is remarkable repose. It is.
I find, in life, now, very few connections with living things, to settle into my bones the way that the familiarity and comfort that Isaac inhabited bodily and mindfully. But these dogs, his dogs, are as close to that as possible. And I am as grateful for them as I am grateful to consider that my beautiful boy possessed the rare qualities of a faithful canine companion. There was a deep and meaningful reason I always called him “Puppy”. I’m just not sure I understood it as well as I do today.