Saying Goodbye to a Friend

I snuck out of work early today,
not wanting to miss the chance to say goodbye to Cedar.

At this time of year, one needs to plan,
to catch the ground between the frosts of morning and night.

I got lucky, and one of his favorite places in our backyard
was still being warmed by the thin November sunlight.

It's just outside the barn
where he once moved faster than I would have thought possible
to catch a quail in his soft mouth.

Miles helped me to pass the time,
not digging much, but also not talking, as others might do.

We both remembered Cedar,
each in his own way;
Miles was done before me,
and sat while I dug, and sweat, in the cold.

I enjoy grave-digging,
not for the occasion, of course,
but for the time and effort that it requires.

Time to think...
about death and dying,
life and living,
friends leaving before you're ready,
wanting it all to be ... neater, better, more...

I always dig a grave too big,
death diminishes my friends;
my memories of them are far grander than the reality.

Miles sits and stands and walks and wags and cries,
I give him a pat and look down into the hole,

The first shovelful never fails to bother me,
but not Cedar...
he's passed caring,
passed indignities,
past tense.

The sun has moved off of the spot by the time I've filled the hole,
topped it off with sod and logs,
and tried to explain what's happening to Miles.

Cedar was a little shit,
a prince,
a hassle,
a giver of sweet little kisses in time of need,
irrationally hateful of red squirrels,
beautiful to watch on the hunt in his prime,
ugly as a mud fence when death was hunting him.

In the end, he tricked us one last time,
dying bloody in the road,
when we all knew he'd now die peaceful in his sleep.

He was better than I gave him credit for,
and he gave me credit for being better than I am...
dogs are like that.



Jamie Sheffield said...

Excuse the self-indulgent poetry...my dog Cedar was hit by a car last night, and I buried him today, and the process brought out this poem, fully formed.

Dave Gibson said...

A very touching and beautiful tribute to Cedar, Jamie.

Anonymous said...

Jamie this is very touching. I love that line about digging a hole bigger than you needed to. Thanks for sharing this with us. RIP Cedar
Sarah B