We are fated, it seems, to mourn in this space.
A week ago my dear old best friend Beckett died. He was 12, going to be 13 sometime this summer, around early July.
It was sudden and strange and I miss him so much I can hardly bear it. He was the first friend I made here in the bad old days when I moved to Baton Rouge. He had health problems but nothing that we knew of that would have been fatal.
What happened was: Gary got up early last Thursday, took the dogs out, got ready to go to a job on the other side of the river, left me a note saying he hadn't fed the dogs or cats, started out the door and was mobbed by the cats so fed them, went back inside and changed the note to say he had fed the cats, and added at the bottom for me to keep an eye on Beckett since he seemed "mopey." I slept on, having taken Benadryl the night before. Usually I just take a half but since I haven't been sleeping well since I got back from Italy, I took a whole one, so I was more or less comatose. 90 minutes later I woke up, stumbled out to the bathroom then made coffee, saw the note, got the dog food out. Usually when that happens Beckett is right there. I called him, and Hattie and Scout kind of slunk out of the bedroom. No Beckett. I went around the corner and into the bedroom and saw him lying there, and I knew. I sat there next to him for 5 minutes willing him to move or breathe. No.
Then I got up and called Gary. I couldn't go back in the room. Just couldn't. When Gary got home 10 minutes later I had to go in there and face reality. It was clear he had been dead for over an hour--he was already not warm. We do not know what happened.
Why, why did I take that stupid Benadryl? If I hadn't I would have gotten up with Gary and I would have at least been there when he passed, been holding him maybe even. I am so angry about that Benadryl, about not waking up, I can't deal with it. And he must have been lying there dead when I got up, but I didn't even notice. I can't say I thought he was asleep, because I gave it no thought. He's always been here, I probably half registered the positions of all 3 dogs but I just got up like it was any other day.
The vet said they could do a necropsy but I just couldn't do it, I couldn't let them have his body. So we buried him in the side yard, wrapped in his old white flannel blanky, and Gary is going to make a marker and a little fence to grow vines on, and I can visit with him there. Friends have been kind, and Gary has been very understanding. He loved Beckett too, but Beckett was mine before I knew Gary, and he knows this has been the hardest damn thing.
I keep thinking and even sometimes letting myself pretend he's just in the next room napping and I'll come around the corner and his tail will thump and I'll scratch behind his ears. It is hard to be at Grey Gardens because he is everywhere here. Here's the place where he would nap in the afternoon sun; I sit in my big chair to watch the news and he is supposed to climb into my lap; we take the other dogs out and there is one too few and I keep thinking I see him back in the shadows.
Losing Edie was hard, but we only knew her less than a year. Beckett has been my dear best friend for over a decade. And Scout's. He is sad, too.
When we were preparing his body Scout wouldn't come near, but Hattie came up and we let her sniff him. They were both subdued for a few days, and Scout seems less animated. Beckett was the instigator, the leader, and they just don't quite know what to do. The last few months Hattie had followed Beckett everywhere; she licked his muzzle and he allowed her to, patiently. Now she is trying to transfer that to Scout but he doesn't want it. We are giving them both extra affection but sometimes even doing that makes me miss Beckett even more. My little B. He was such a sweet sweet guy, such a peculiar dog, so many dear things about him. He always watched me. I wonder if I am quite here since nobody is watching like he did.
I should be grateful there was no suffering, so far as we could tell. But just the last week I had taken him to the vet and everything was fine. I had felt so relieved, and although I knew he was aging I thought he had a few years left, and I remember saying to him on the way home that he had been such a good boy, and school would be out soon and I would be home writing all summer, no more trips for awhile.
Here is my little B as a puppy, the day I brought him home, and then recently, with Hattie.