Buddy—A Series Of Adventures—One White Box

It’s time to go home; time to leave the peaceful serenity of the lake. The time has come, to take care of business back home.  I am reluctant to go.  I sit in the gazebo where you spent your final hours.  I will never forget this space.  I am reluctant to leave the vivid essence of you here.  But I have to.  Really, I have to.

Your sisters have both become quite sick. It has been very challenging, to continue to go without normal sleep for so many nights.  First with you these last few weeks, and now with them.  They have not eaten for days, have had bleeding runny bowel movements, barfing, and now they too, have met the vet I brought you to on Labor Day.  We don’t know what’s wrong.  He has given them both antibiotics and Loperamide, hoping their symptoms are simply from getting into some bad drinking water, something called Bacterial Overgrowth Gastroenteritis.  God I hope that’s all it is.  Please let that be all it is. I can’t lose anyone else. I boil hamburger and rice for them.  They refuse to eat it.

We are all alone up here. We have to head back.

I pace around the gazebo, putting things away in their places. I pace around the cabin, doing the same.  Tears come hot, hard, and often.  Everything I touch holds a memory of you.  Straightening things up doesn’t mean I am getting rid of you, and yet it feels like it.  I load up our gear and situate the girls into the truck, then make a final swing through the Toy Hauler, locking things up.  My bike and the Red Flyer Wagon are still out.  I move them into the storage building.  Somehow, I can’t let go of that borrowed wagon just yet.  No, I can’t let go just yet.

I climb into the driver seat and start the engine. “D” for drive.  Come on, now, let’s get on the road.  Drive.

Drive.

Drive….

Drive?

Or just sit here and weep for a while. That works too.  I think about Cindy and Clark.  They opened up their beautiful  lake place to share with us, and spent their much needed vacation here with us during this difficult time.  What kind, amazing people they are.  They were right there through everything, helping me care for you.  What would we have done without them?  What in the world would I have done when the truck broke down and Clark helped me to get it to the mechanics in Walker?  What would we have done without Cindy?  I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  There is always some light.

Heavy sigh. I wipe my tears, shift to “D”, pull out of the driveway and onto the road—destination home.

The drive out seems so desolate. We pass the foot path you and I walked up looking for grouse.  My eyes well up with tears.  Do you remember that day, limping up that path in your Thunder Shirt and home-made boot?  A true hunter to the end– you were so determined to point something for me.  That same day, you spied a chipper on the woodpile and closed in on it with the girls, terrorizing the hell out of it.  It was a good day.

We stop in Walker at the vet office. The girls instantly become anxious.  They know where we are, and they know they don’t want to go in there again.  No worries.   I walk up to the desk alone.

“do you have… “

“Oh! You are here!”  the receptionist says with relief.  She jumps up, runs into another room, then returns with a white metal box, 4 inches by 4 inches by 5inches, carefully handing it to me.

Eight days without you. But at least I have you now.

I clutch the small white box to my bosom and go back to the truck. It all comes down to this.  Your silky soft body, your countless sweet expressions, your athleticism, your natural ability and hunting instincts, your wildly enthusiastic nature and willingness to please, it all comes down to a box of ashes.  Once again the tears fall hard and heavy until I cannot breathe. Until I am out of air and gasping for a breath.

There is complete stillness in the truck. The girls are both intently looking at me.  They begin to gurgle “pre-barks” of concern, adding in half a tail wags.  I wipe my face and blow my nose, and give Angel a pat on the head.  I am not feeling quite so alone.  I need to take care of your sisters. And now you are still with me, big dog, and we are all heading home.   I place the box between me and Angel on the front seat.  Sunny Girl lies down in the back seat and will soon be fast asleep.  Hopefully we will not have to make any messy stops on the way home.

We drive straight through the string of tourist towns all the way to the last 30 or so minutes of the trip. I hesitate as I take the exit at 25.  It looks much different in the daylight.  It looks much different when it’s not raining.  I slow down.  There is no one behind us.  I slow to a crawl, searching the far side of the road for a sign.  Just a sign.  Oh…there it is.  I’m sure of it.  I pull off to the side of the road, flashers on, park, and get out.

I shouldn’t be doing this. I run across the road.  I’ve found the spot, the exact spot where we stopped on the way up north that Thursday before Labor Day.  Nothing else has been here since that day.  The small bits of garbage and sticks are all still right there.  There are my muddy sliding footprints on the hillside.  I kneel down and touch the ground where we had been.

It was raining pretty hard, but you so politely let me know you needed to “go”, so we stopped. What a horrible experience it was, there on the side of the road.  The rain pelting down, and you were barely able to limp out of the back seat of the truck to get out and go.  It took all the energy you had, and then you lost your footing, and rolled down the ditch.  Oh my God I felt so helpless!  You lay at the bottom of the ditch in the weeds and grass. The girls were contemplating jumping out to explore.  I was yelling at them to stay the hell in the truck as I rushed down the hill to your side.  They stayed.  You were exhausted, and just laid there in the wet ditch.  The look of humiliation on your face was heartbreaking. We were both soaking wet.  I tried to lift you up.  I wasn’t strong enough.  And all the while, a steady stream of cars whizzed by at 55+mph, spraying water on the side of the road.  Not one vehicle even slowed down.  I’m surprised an area resident didn’t call 911 hearing my mighty, desperate scream “GOD PLEASE HELP ME!” as I tried one more time to pick your tired body up out of the ditch.  And then, somehow I gained the strength to get you up that hill, and back into the truck, where you collapsed until we reached Leech Lake.

Sorrow fills my heart, and I sit crying in the ditch, remembering it all. “I am so sorry boy, so sorry that you went through that. I am so sorry I wasn’t stronger…smarter.  I should have done something differently.  Oh, my boy, I miss you so!”  I am pulling tufts of weeds out of the ground as I sit sobbing, barely aware of the passing cars.  Suddenly I notice a metallic flicker in the grass down to the left of where our struggles took place.  I get up and walk towards it.  It is my silver, battery operated lantern light.  I pick it up in disbelief and turn to look up the hill.  There is our traveling water dish, water bottle, and one of my red ratchet straps.  These things must of all fell out of the truck as I wrestled the elements to get you back in.  A gentle breeze blows my hair across my face, then, all is still.OneWhiteBox

“Thank you, Buddy. Thank you for bringing me back here.  Good boy.  Let’s go home now.”

And we are on the road again, with you, in one white box.

 

Buddy Boy McBrady

Gone Forever Bird Hunting as of Monday, Sept 1st 2014 at 3:30

“Find us some good fields up there, boy, and I will see you again soon.”

 

You can read all about my boy… there are lots of stories under “Buddy – A Series of Adventures” in my blog category, “Words From The Wild”.  Please feel free to share with others who may find meaning and value in our journey together.

 

 

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Comments

  1. I appreciate your sharing this with us. I am so sorry for your pain…Buddy was a very special boy and I hope the girls are healthy again soon. Take care of yourself.

  2. So amazing that he led you back to the spot for the previously unnoticed items that fell out of the truck. I can’t help but feel that I’ve been here too. It really is like something that would happen to me – somehow finding the strength to heft him back up the hill to the truck. I don’t know how it works out but somehow it always does, doesn’t it?

  3. Such a tender time Patty. I’m so sorry for your loss and for the continued challenges now with the health of your other dogs. Sending wishes for ease and grace as you navigate this.

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