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|Family Matters Mar/Apr - Page 3|
Friday, we buried him. In the morning, I dug another grave in the creek-bed. My eyes were full of tears, sometimes thinking of the sweet times we'd had, sometimes thinking about my other dogs, Rocky and Snowball. When the grave was done, I climbed out, showered, and drove across the Bay to the animal-control center that had him, and claimed the body. I was wearing my German shepherd T-shirt. The clerk was polite and directed me to drive around back, where a technician came out pulling a large wagon. Ranger was on it. They had wrapped him in three or four plastic bags, but you could see it was him.
We loaded him into the back of the Prius. I put a tarp around him and drove back to Marin County. When I got home, I somehow hefted the 100-pound package and managed to carry it down the creek embankment and over to the grave. I caught my breath and lowered him in. I used my shovel to pull back some of the plastic to see his black-and-tan fur. I gazed for a moment, and then recovered him with the plastic until Jennifer could get home.
When she arrived, we sat on the couch and talked for a bit, and then she went to change her clothes. Meanwhile, I walked around the garden with a big white bucket and a pruner, cutting a flower from each plant. It felt as though the plants were crying for their lost friend, who'd spent so much time among them, and the flowers were the tears I collected. There were forest flames and hydrangeas, callas and penstemons, marguerite daisies and potato vines, red geraniums, abutilons, lions' tails, Bowles's Mauve, foxgloves, and those tall purple things that I don't know the names of. I took the flowers down to the creek-bed and spread them across the body, and then went back up to get Jennifer. Looking across the yard, I saw the first agapanthus of the season poking up its long, blue, star-studded stalk. I walked over and pulled it from the ground, and thencarried it to the bridge, leaned over, and carefully dropped it down into the grave.
Jennifer and I made our way down the hillside. We saw the beautiful flowers, and she tossed in Ranger's favorite squeaky toy. We spoke and wept a bit. I used the shovel gingerly to pull back the plastic. His head was still covered as we gazed down at his lovely fur. We cried and cried. I handed the shovel to Jennifer for her to do the first throw. She scooped a load and tossed it into the grave. Plop! And another, and another as I thought of romps in the woods, my hiking buddy, scratches behind the ear. We took turns tossing in dirt and recalling him, each going until we were worn out.