I arrived at the Grill for lunch with a just-returned friend – two girls about to dish on food & lovers. I made a u-turn for a great parking place, trying to avoid the black dog & her white-spotted friend, obviously just escaped from their yard. The pair lolloped up the street, stopping to sniff the dirt-rain-laden air. I honked my little clown-horn to get their attention. I emerged from the car calling to Blackie, thinking to get a collar address. White ran on, into the town’s main drag, as Black paused & turned towards my call. Relieved, I reached out a hand & then heard the loud, solid crunch. White never got across Date Street.
My hand rose to my mouth, trying to hold back my screams, “No!” echoing across the pausing traffic. Cars scattered, pulled over. A girl ran up the near side – I thought her a jogger until I saw her little red car pulled over a block away. I staggered to the street, still bent over in horrified grief, still screaming, still holding the raw shock & horror back, as if one hand over my face could overcome the suddenness of a life ending. I stopped to hold onto a railing. People gathered, leaned over the dog, spoke together only a moment as the girl & a man picked up the sagging body & hurried to the red car. I walked into the street with hands up, holding the traffic for the moment they needed to cross, to carry White past me. I hollered “Did you get an address from the collar?” A man yelled back “Yes.” Justin pulled up in the Animal Control van right in front of me, blocking my view. The black & white police car stopped across the street, conferred with Justin & left.
My friend emerged from the restaurant, “Carol! What happened?!” I stood a little straighter, turned to her, “A dog,” I said. She covered her face said, “No, I can’t,” as she walked to me, searching my eyes.
We touched arms & she (a dog owner herself) walked back into the restaurant head down. I thought, “Lunch? Now?” And yet…
We ordered wonton soup & salad, a rice n chicken bowl. We portioned out the food. We talked about her lover leaving & mine arriving, about the echoes & throughways of life & quick, merciful death. The death of her relationship, the life about to arrive with this spring rain.
I didn’t feel the angels so close until I sat to write this. But their wings hold me in hover. Whispers surround me. I am calm, eyes liquid. I was there to Witness only. I was there to scream so loudly that Black spun on her tail & winged home, ears flying. From the window, over our soup, I saw Justin turn up 8th, heading toward the house where death had flown over, following the dogs. Where two of my gentle friends had started walking immediately upon finding the address on the collar, to offer awful news & dear comfort in person.
There is a first nations tradition that holds when an animal is taken from life, his spirit continues on while the body remains. I understood that White was still headed for that inviting, open street across Date, that he had been caught up by angels running suddenly alongside, calling his name in joy & familiarity; that the rain for him had stopped & a bridge opened before him, so he ran faster, straight up & over into the loving Light awaiting.