A piece of a song has been floating in my head, a lyric in honor of Digby. I took it, brief as it is, and set up a post for after his passing. What’s a post without a title and it came to me: “Requium”. Short and simple, the whole post would be:
He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
throughout the south
He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him
The dog up and died, he up and died
And after 20 years he still grieves
Jerry Jeff Walker
That was yesterday.
Digby went to sleep this afternoon, 12:40 just as planned, Carrie on one side, me on the other and the vet, quite aware, directing his assistant to bring the tissue box. He has done this before I suspect. We cried, took his collar, and put on as brave a face as one can at such times. It has been a difficult day.
Then it was back to the car, back to work, and as I cruised along the highway I thought of this post and thought of the title and realized: the title is perfect but the post is all wrong. It is indeed a requiem, but for more than Digby.
Digby joined us almost nine years ago. A little over two years earlier was Washington, that non-watershed weekend when I first spent a night with a man, a rather gay night, and returned, after minor consideration, as straight. It was not long thereafter when Carrie and I floated with the loons, listened to stories of the Bible, and decided to have more children, children that would be the “ours”. And so the twins were born, seemingly on gossamer angel’s wings.
Digby joined us as we moved into a new home, a large home with the backyard of Carrie’s dreams. It was a time of my moving from my own small practice to one that makes the national lists. It was, in short, a time of eternal optimism, right down to the little pup terrorizing any loose shoe in his path.
It is nine years later. We sold the house seven years ago: A beautiful backyard which was good, because there was no neighborhood – a problem in fancy areas, and real estate taxes that would be embarrassing to even mention here. The switch in jobs was a wonderful decision. But before the switch, Carrie and I worked in the same building on common goals, shared lunches or just quick mid-day hellos with the occasional stolen hug. After the switch, a forty minute commute, not so bad, but no longer the working together we once so cherished.
There was more, the economic issues we all face as the little ones became less little and the bigger ones grow into colleges and cars. Once again, not fatal blows: just more of life’s pressures taking their inexorable toll. Still we held it together, we were lovers and friends: we were a family.
Then came TGT, roaring like a freight train, leaving little standing in its path. First the late night conversations, trying to find our way. Then the basement, still a shared house, but not really a marriage, a marriage as most would think of one, anymore.
So today we stood there on either side of Digby, we felt the life drain from him and we cried. After, I tried to do the right thing and put my arm on Carrie’s shoulder. Then by her car, a quick hug for the road. There was a time we would have been in each other’s arms, heads bowed on the other’s shoulder, warm tears mingling together. Not today. I suppose not again.
It was my second cry of the young week. On Sunday while packing for vacation I came across an envelope of pictures from our first vacation together so many years ago – no kids, just the two of us. One picture jumps out at me: Carrie lying on a towel by the side of the lake with a smile, a smile that could light up the night, a smile that came from deep within, from her very core. And as I looked at that picture I realized both what was and what will never be, for I fear that smile, the joy and the innocence walking together, will never be seen again.
Yes a requiem indeed, a requiem for what feels like lives gone terribly awry.
Requiem æternam dona eis, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.)