I'm a lucky man, indeed, and I am grateful. While I'll never, ever understand why Billy had to leave so soon, I do understand why Bob was just too tired to carry on, no matter how much I needed him. He did his service, that boy did, and he did it with all the grace and beauty of God's hand.
It was an awful weekend, no doubt about that. There’s no crayon color in the box to match how the weekend was, and that’s just as well for all the kids out there. I did the impossible. I held my boy in my arms when he passed away. Billy didn’t have that comfort from me but Bob did. And some might think it crazy talk but I believe Bob went from my arms to Billy’s, and they’re back together, the best friends they always were.
Joe is a man true to his word. He’s told me repeatedly that he would always be there for me if I ever sent the signal up to the sky. I did on Friday night, and he arrived in a flash, maintaining as much composure as he could muster while carrying my big dummy dog’s body in the elevator, to the car, and into the emergency room. He was there when the finality came up and gave me that wet, smutty kiss of reality. He watched as I did my final olive work on Bob. He came home with me and watched some insane Karl Freund and Peter Lorre collaboration, Mad Love, a romp from 1935 of a mad doctor who sews the hands of a psychotic killer onto the arms of a pianist. Five in the morning snuck up on us; the tranquilizers kicked in for me, and he passed out from exhaustion.
Joe spent the weekend, sleeping on Bob’s former perch. On Saturday, I was so dazed and so sad that spontaneous breakdowns were hourly. We went shopping, I think, and we watched more movies on TV. Joe had tracked down a precious copy of The Apple, a musical Sean and Vinny had introduced to me, and we sat on the couch, smoked pot, and giggled. And cried. It was confusing because I didn’t know which to do sometimes, and luckily, whatever direction I stumbled to, Joe joined me and helped.
I wrote on Sunday. Joe hung out until about two, and I had two assignments for my workshop on Wednesday. I wrote until I couldn’t stop crying then I stopped writing and watched Joe Schmoe. I went to bed around half past eleven, and I slept an uneasy and cold sleep.
For ten years, I was used to sleeping with a guy who weighed in at a buck seventy and an eighty pound dog on our queen-sized bed. It was actually a bumpy ballet every night as we rolled this way then that to find our spots, and we’d hold each other, entwined and safe. It was cramped and I’d sometimes grouse, and whine, and oh, God, what I wouldn’t do to have that back. Seriously. I would do anything.
Then it was just that damned eighty pounds of black fur and me, and I clung to him for all that I held dear in my life. For two years and four months, he provided the gentle snore, the warmth, and the connection that I miss so much from Billy.
Last night, the bed was cold and empty.
There are a few other things I need to write but I’ll let them sit for another day or two. I’m at work now and it’s very unseemly to cry at my desk. In the meantime, I thank you all for your amazing support, your generous spirit, and your instant compassion.
And I thank Joe. He’s a champ.