In April, our family dog died. My mother wrote a column in the local paper about him for the eight years that he was with us. When he passed, I wrote a little something in case she did not have the strength to write her final Cody column for a couple of weeks and needed a "filler" column. It was not published, but here it is:
I remember the first time I saw Cody. It was Halloween weekend, my first visit home from college. I walked through the door and Dad said, "Your brother got a puppy." I said, "What?!?!?! What?!?!?! No way!" Dad said, "Go into the living room." And there they were, the boy and his dog. I couldn't believe it! Sleeping there on my brother's belly was a floppy, warm, bundle of puppy, face obscured by ears. "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh, can I pet him?" The boy gave me permission and as I laid my hand on the bundle, he came to life. This puppy wiggled and his tail whapped furiously back and forth. Everything about him went into motion. He was just so excited to meet me. My brother sat up and handed the squirmy wormy puppy to me. I introduced myself to the puppy, told him I was his new sister, that I was so excited he was here, and that if I could I would wiggle my whole-self just like him. I held him close to me, made a tent around him with my long hair, inhaled his puppy smell, let him chew on my hands, and he became mine, too.
As time wore on, I came home to visit from college, I moved out, I moved back in, I moved out for good, the boy went to college, and Mom and Dad went about their daily routine, but Cody was our center. A phone call home never passed without mention of Cody, leaving a message on the answering machine always meant a "Hello, Cody", and emails from home always included anecdotes about Cody's most recent shenanigans. For me, I knew that no matter when I came home, who I came home with, whether the humans were home, Cody would be there waiting, howling a hearty hello from the window in the front room as I pulled up, and wiggling his whole-self, especially that whapping tail, as I made my way in the door.
One beautiful spring Friday a few weeks ago, with my husband off on a business trip, I spontaneously went to spend the night with Mom, Dad, Cody, Sam, and Max. I arrived eager to put down my bags and free my arms for the hugging of humans and petting of animals. When I opened the door, Dad was behind it and Cody, I assumed, was behind him. Preoccupied with everything in my arms, it didn't hit me that the house was unusually quiet, that I had not heard that familiar howl as I pulled up, that the familiar sound of the tail whapping against anything in its way as Cody lumbered towards me, was missing. Dad followed me through the house, stood next to me as I put my bags down, and told me "We buried Cody." I said, "What?!?!?! What?!?!?!" Again he said, "We buried Cody." "No way!" I looked around for Cody and my eyes landed on my Mom sitting on the couch in the living room weeping. We all sat and wept.
Some took to calling Cody our "Never Again Dog". As I slowly begin to accept that never again will Cody greet me, never again will I feel his nose nudge my elbow at dinner hoping for a morsel, never again will I rub his velvety ears between my thumb and forefinger or run my hands along the length of his torso, never again will I take him out to the backyard, never again will I wipe the drool from his flues, I realize that Cody is our "Forever Dog." From the beginning he so entwined himself in our lives that, even in death, there is no way for him to ever be disentwined.
Fittingly, the center of our lives is buried in the center of our backyard where he so loved to run, dig secret holes, lay in the sun, chase the squirrels, and bar-be-que with the Big Grownup. Even as we mourn Cody, I can't help but wonder if one day, when the right time comes, Cody will send us another bundle of fur who, though no one could fill the void he has left, will know just how to pick up where he left off.
Thank you, Cody. We miss you our "Forever Dog."