My Epitaph: His Heart
I was a toddler and she was some few days old when that little, four-legged, wet-nosed creature entered my not-so-complicated life. I named my first pet with the most beautiful name I knew: Puppy, but I realized now that it sounds too masculine for my lovely female dog. A neighbor gave her to us, more like a relief for him to give her away – I understand now as grown up – than a gift which I thought it was as a kid.
I still clearly remember that day puppy came. It was a sunny day and I was out in our lawn chasing grasshoppers and dragonflies with a stick when my solitude was disturbed by the voice of an old man cuddling three cute puppies. Instantly, I was charmed by her gaze when she, like a baby, performed that “beautiful eyes” trick. I don’t know what happened to the other two puppies, but from that day, our house became her home and we became her family. My first pet: a hoary-tinged, white dog which wags its tail to seek attention; folds its ears backwards in my presence, but causes my mother’s misery when she would pee and pooh in the hard-to-reach corners of the house. Her shortcomings made her even more endearing. She made me feel I am needed and returned my attention doubled and unconditional. I’ve found in puppy a loyal friend and a companion in such a young age.
I was not alone anymore chasing grasshoppers and dragonflies. During weekends, my brother and I would take her with us when we go fishing, fly kite, hunt birds and all the adventures we had as kids. Having her in the family when my siblings and I were growing up develop in us the value of caring, to nurture and to respect life no matter in what form.
Puppy prepared us to welcome her offsprings and their progeny. Her own family grew in number – our last count was fourteen. And then our family moved to a new place. Our relocation made us, against our will, abandon our dogs to the care of an uncle. We were heart-wrenched leaving them, especially my aging puppy.
It took us some time to replace them in the space they once occupied in our lives. My thoughts of them always bring back happy childhood memories. I had other pets after puppy: birds, fishes, cats, we even had a bearcat name patty; turtles, and dogs, too. But there is a special spot in my heart that’s only for puppy.
Twenty-five years later, absorbed by my adult life affairs – career, personal struggles – we have two new dogs. Farah came five months after we had Jordan. Jordan is a loud vivacious dog that easily gets our attention, while Farah is more reserved and quiet, thereby neglected. She contented herself with the little attention I give. She has this sad look in her eyes, yet I didn’t seem to care much. What with my hurried life and demanding career. Besides, I have other pets. I have few fond memories of farah except when she was about to leave us.
One early morning, she awoke me with her barking. I was annoyed, but I remember praying that night asking God to rouse me for my morning pages. Perhaps farah was God’s alarm clock to answer my prayer. And that is how her barking became my wake up call every day. But it’s only for a short time. One morning, I was bothered hearing her wails. We discovered she is seriously sick that same day. A Vet told us farah is poisoned; maybe it’s just her time. Hers is a lonely death scene I witnessed. She withered like a rose, not even my tears could restore her wilting mortal body. It came to a point when I just wanted her to die. Borrowing a dialogue from a movie, I told her to let go and to go towards the light.
Though farah failed to catch my attention while living, she got it when she was dying. Perhaps she just want me to remember. She lent me her voice to immortalize her memory in a poem I composed for her.
I hope I could find a precious heart
Who would care to pick me up when I fall.
When I’m confused, displaced and lost,
He would guide me back home.
I wish to share my laugher with him.
I will offer to him my victories.
Because mirth grows when shared with somebody.
When I’m in rage, he would keep my cool.
A genial touch and caring gestures;
His magical touch that could console.
When I’m down, he would tell me “its okay.”
A pat in the back goes a long way.
For all the good things I’ve somehow done.
My warmth when I feel cold at night.
His tight embraces would keep me safe,
He will answer my wails and sighs.
Hope someone would fill my emptiness.
Satiate the voids of my nothingness
And give meaning to my existence.
He would blow my face with air to breath
Would revive me from my sad fate
And would do things to save me from death.
He would lend me his hands and feet as cane,
When I’m down my knees withering.
He would stay with me through the worst moments.
And when I reach the end of the line ~
Point of my inevitable end ~
May he would take hold of my memory.
And Etch my epitaph in his heart.
Farah died the morning I finished her poem.
Every creature has something to tell and they hope we would pay attention. More than the feeding, the cuddling, the bathing, the walking, they also need not only our ears but our hearts to listen. I remember my precious moments as a kid with puppy. We would be seated quietly in the stearway while we wait for my brother and sisters who were gone for school. I would hear her breath sounds in our quietude. Perhaps she was also listening to mine. That is one of my most calming and peaceful thoughts.
Farah is a neglected pet in her life which I regret. She taught me to value life with her death. We hardly learn this from school or from books, and if there’s any, I bit we we take the lessons lightly. We are all going to die, and that’s one sure thing in life. One poet I know, Benjamin Mosley, asked in his poem: Did you live or just die today?
Yes, we tend to value our lives only when death passes us with genial whisks. I did when I saw farah dying. If I die tomorrow and write my own eulogy today, I want it to read like the poem I wrote for farah. For I am sure that God will write my epitaph in his heart. But would it be nice that there would be one person to do that for me here on earth?
The memories of farah will always be cheerished. Her epitaph, too, is now engraved in my heart. No, she did not replaced puppy in my heart. I just added another compartment close to hers. Our hearts is capable of expading, and loving, and welcoming new things, new pets and people to enter our life and to love. I did not stop loving after the many pets and people that have come and gone in my life.
I remember the sad look in the eyes of farah. I remember it is the same sad look in the eyes of puppy when we move away and left them. And oh, by the way, did I mentioned that farah is also a hoary-tinged white dog?