The dogwood bush on Sparkey's grave, thoughtfully and lovingly purchased and planted by our son Rene, shines when the sunlight strikes its leaves. Sparkey's little corner of the Earth is like a little corner of Heaven, with dappled sunlight, towering white pines, rhododendrons, annuals and perennials, the small marsh beyond. Not fifteen feet from our porch, we overlook his gravesite daily, and often pause by this lovely corner of our humble piece of land.
Eleven months after his death, I regard his grave with a mixture of sadness, gratitude, and nostalgia. A part of me wonders how I can miss a dog---an animal---so much, so very deeply. I also find myself wondering if his body is completely decomposed now. Has it completely returned to the earth, or are there vestiges of his physical body still remaining? Would there be any ability to know that he was gently wrapped in a beautiful, soft, green and brown cloth, or has that too become soil once again? To some these thoughts are morbid. To me, they are a normal process of accepting his physical absence, the fact that we put his body in the earth while it was still warm, each of us taking turns climbing into the grave for a final goodbye.
One might ask how an animal could become such an integral part of one's soul. One might also ask how it could ever be otherwise.