Saying Goodbye

I picked a small bouquet of wildflowers – goldenrod, and black – eyed susans. I wove the viny threads of deep blue vetch around the others to create an old fashioned posy that I placed on his grave as soon as I arrived.

 During his long life, Franklin often stood here sniffing the swaying grasses of a field that towered over his head. Memories of him flashed to the surface. I saw him standing there surveying the unknown, his long thin black, now graying nose catching breezes that wafted scents his way – smells I couldn’t even imagine. Betsey had picked just the right spot to bury him.

I was on my way to see Phoebe his sister, another dachshund, this one with ruffles of golden hair. The two had been together for sixteen years, having suffered the loss of many people they loved. But always as a unit. After losing their dad last year Phoebe was inconsolable, sleeping with Peter’s shoes, but Franklin continued to “carry on” and perhaps this was one reason Phoebe recovered. They were a team. It was hard to believe I had only known them for a year; the two were woven through my heartstrings having taken up residence with all the dogs I had ever loved…

I was surprised and somewhat dismayed to see Blue, the giant friendly Lab. I don’t know why I assumed he would be with Betsey… Fortunately I had come with enough treats for two. 

Phoebe was apparently asleep on the couch but awakened the moment I touched her, leaping down excitedly, greeting me with a mewing sound I knew well. Phoebe and I had been through a lot together and there was a special bond between us.

Chaos ensued as I doled out the treats with giant Blue whose need for attention always won! Realizing that my only hope for a visit with Phoebe depended upon her willingness to follow me outdoors I left. She could use her dog door to meet me.

Once I was outside Phoebe arrived in seconds and the two of us snuggled on an old towel for a few minutes while I stroked her silky fur. Then she got up abruptly and walked to the edge of the brick walk sniffing, her nose to the air. Returning, she only stayed a minute before repeating her walk two more times. This behavior was very unusual for her when we were together. Seconds later I got it – She was looking for Franklin… Generally, when she joined me outdoors – he appeared too, and we three hung out together. I loved how the two shared my attention, each waiting his/her turn. Oh… 

When Phoebe returned the last time she lay down beside me quite contentedly, I thought. Accepting. I was reminded of what often happened to me when I lost someone I loved. Suddenly, I would forget, imagining the lost person restored to sight and scent. It interested me that this behavior of hers also mirrored Franklin’s… 

 I wanted to take home some chicory and I thought a little walk might interest Phoebe. She seemed to be doing well – except for the odd feeling that I had that she was far far away when I first entered the house. Anyway, the two of us meandered around bunches of chicory briefly before Phoebe decided it was time for me to come back indoors! After slipping through the dog door I watched for her nose to appear – This was game she frequently played with me.  She would refuse to come out – I had to come in! Franklin was always content to stay outdoors when I was there and he liked little walks much more than she did. When Blue’s big black head appeared in the dog door I figured our time was over. Although Blue had gotten treats he had also been left indoors…

 I was just standing there thinking about Franklin, how much I missed his sweetness, relieved that Phoebe seemed to be dealing with his death when I heard the strangest high-pitched screech. Looking up to locate the piercing shriek I saw the hawk circling over my head making this high pitched cry again and again. Not a normal call. I knew hawks well…They were messengers from the spirit world that had come to me when members of my family died, or were buried.

For a moment I tried to make sense out of what was happening and then it hit me. 

Franklin had come to say goodbye.

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