Just tonight, I got home from a brief trip to San Antonio. My bags were on my shoulder, and I was headed to the door, where I would soon find Pierre, the dog who can grow the gnarliest dreadlocks within a month of not getting a haircut. We have no idea how old the little dude is. We can only account for the time that he’s blessed us. I got him in the second grade. I’m now twenty-one.
When I got to the door, something was wrong. Somehow he escaped from the backyard while we were gone and he was lying motionless. We helped him stand up, and I could see that he didn’t have the energy to look up at me. The dark brown eyes that normally danced with mischief for the first time didn’t meet mine.
Only a few hours later am I writing this, so I don’t know anything besides assumptions. After assessing his wounds, it looks like he got hit by a car. It’s clear that unless God intervenes, Pierre is going to die.
I thought about this rationally. He’s an old dog. We’re lucky to have had him for this long…especially when nothing was promised to us; we got him as a stray. He chased a woman’s car that we knew, and she gave him to us. I don’t think he ever stopped chasing after my affection. Every time I came into the room, he would lick my hand and then roll onto his back and paw his snout until I rubbed his belly. Despite my attempts, I’ve still been unable to catch up with the amount of love he’s shown me.
After everyone went to bed, I got tired of being reasonable and calculated. I am probably going to lose one of my best friends. He was this longer than anyone else in my life.
He was boy’s best friend. He was teenager’s best friend. He is this man’s best friend.
When this collided into my mind, I was drawn to a Mae song: “A Melody, A Memory.” I went into the uncharacteristically warm air of the eve of New Year’s Eve and put in my earbuds. A few notes slipped out and my tear ducts ruptured. I don’t even know where from. The lyrics took me to the places and stages that Pierre was in my life. He was at every significant one, if not just behind the curtain.
If I liked a girl, he was always my confidant. When I got home from a cross country race, he licked my salty legs. When I played football, he bit the neighborhood boy that dared to tackle me.
The song reminded me that these memories are like “notes in time that make a sweet melody.”
This small hairy mess watched me grow up, and now I’m watching him go down.
I repeat the song for the fifth time. I run my hand down his body, away from the scabs from this anonymous accident. A tear navigates around my smile as I consider that since I got him in the second grade all the way to my junior year of college, Pierre has been anything but an anonymous accident.
As he lies in his bed, I move the hair out of his face so I can see the windows to his soul. He slowly moves his warm caramel eyes into my own, those same eyes that watched me grow into who I will be for the rest of my days.
Along with the song, Pierre’s last few notes were trickling out. It came to the last line of the song. Right on cue, Pierre’s gaze reaches me as if to sing along with it and say that after he is gone, it’s time for
“A new time and place to make a million new memories…”
Pierre, thanks for the sweet melodies you made for 14 years with me.
God has allowed us to perform his mightiest action: the power to create. I’m a bit ashamed that after twenty-one years, I am just starting to understand this. My roommates and I poured countless hours into working on the house to be ready for my birthday party. When the time came to go down and dance off all the water in our bodies, I looked into the eyes and smiles of my closest friends. They were beaming. I thought: “David, your efforts made these people smile.”
So many of us pray for God to change someone without realizing that sometimes we are the answer to our own whispers to the Divine. I’ve heard that we are to be His hands and feet, but lately it seems that mine have been in a cast. It’s up to you and I to recognize the truth of this paragraph’s first sentence and do something about the second.
So why not hand the guy holding a cardboard “Vietnam Veteran, God Bless You” sign a five dollar bill when he’s standing at the stoplight? Why not get uncomfortable and offer something that cost you? Be deliberate about kindness. Don’t let opportunities slip away, because those opportunities are people.
Let’s realize that human emotions are delicate and can be crushed if we squeeze too hard. It’s time to create smiles…the kind that leave lines around the mouth and eyes. It’s about time to take off our casts and cast them.
The work that you do, the things that you say: they create revolutions. And who said that revolutions have to be big?
Have you every seen those long exposure photographs of a city? Of course you have. Everyone’s been to the dentist. In one of those pictures, a camera’s shutter slowly closes in order to depict normally fast moving objects such as cars as a slow and ponderous long glob. It summarizes a long period of activity into one defining frame.
Imagine if someone took a long exposure photograph of your entire lifetime. In this photograph, every thought, desire, and action that was centered on yourself would not emit any light. On the other hand, every single brain wave and action that was dedicated to God and His children leaves a trail of the brightest neon blue, yellow and red in your wake.