Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Signs of Sparkey

There are so many physical signs of Sparkey around the house. How they tug at the heart strings and bring visceral memories to life.

When I would give Sparks his IV, he would sometimes bleed from the puncture site, and if I wasn't diligent about putting pressure on the site after removing the large needle from his skin, he would inevitably shake (like he was coming out of a pond) and diluted blood would spray in all directions. There are some spots in the house where spatters of reddish pink still adorn the walls, and we are both reluctant to remove the stains.

So many windows and sliding glass doors carry smudges from Sparkey's big nose. These smudges are memories of how he would press himself against the glass in our absence, getting as close to the outdoors as possible. Lucky for him, he had a lovely screened-in porch for six or seven months of the year, plus a doggie door and fenced-in yard. Not bad digs, really, but the yard was small. He always seemed to hate the backyard and fenced-in feeling. One of our housemates who helped build the fence named it "The Sparkitentiary".

The little foam mattress where Sparkey breathed his last breaths is still on the porch in the exact place where it was when we held him and set him free. It is covered with a burgundy flannel sheet which we have been hesitating to wash, his essence still palpable there. Tina often sits or lays on the spot where he died, and we too spend some time there. We're getting ready to let that one go, but it is a slow decision to be made.

The house is much less covered with fur now that Sparkey is gone. Tina sheds very little, and the dust bunnies were certainly more of a Sparkey origin, to be sure. As we do late summer cleaning, those reminders of his earthly presence slowly disappear into the vacuum, and eventually his fur will no longer sit in little corners of the house and under furniture. As we let go more and more, the physical reminders will also slowly diminish, and other memories will suffice.

This is yet another step along the road. Many people might not understand the visceral quality of this type of loss, but those who have lost an animal companion will "get it" immediately. Unconditional love is an amazing gift, and Sparkey gave us that gift for thirteen years. Our unconditional love for him continues unabated, and these remembrances are just part and parcel of the journey.


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