Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dear Ms. Lady Bug

The letter was an assignment to write to "someone rather distant (geographically or emotionally), a friend you haven't seen in a long time, or someone from whom you feel estranged". I mentally scrolled through a list of people and finally settled on Ms. Lady Bug. I decided to use the text as it originally flowed out of me, rather than trying to tighten or improve the letter/poem.

Lady, Bug, Buggles, Lady Bug, Ms. Bug.
So many names for such a little girl.
We never quite bonded, you and I,
Two damaged souls with thick walls
Where more open hearts would join.

What a shock it must have been
From a lonely life in Grandma's dark den,
Our Wendy sewed you to my heel like Peter Pan's shadow.
To work, to the market, to home, out to walk,
Never without human company for more than an hour or three.

For six weeks you barely acknowledged my existence,
Silently following like a recalcitrant teen.
It broke my heart when you fell for Carl, the IT guy,
Your whole being alight when he entered the room.
My heart twisted in pain as he took first place in your heart.

Obligation and shame drove my care of you,
My inability to say No when "I would take Angie if..."
Became "I'll take any dog Grandma has if/when..."
Even when a coworker indicated his grandma might love you,
Embarrassment overrode my sure knowledge that we two would never be one.

First task, the weight.
I dragged, then strolled, then walked, then trotted with you
As the scale dropped from 48 to 36 to 29
And the brush untangled too-fluffy, coat-fault fur,
Your sleek, energetic self a far cry from the tired fuzzy football that once you were.

You were a fixture under my desk,
Though you would choose other feet should mine leave for a meeting or lunch.
In nothing flat, you transformed my Indian office mate from freaked to fan.
Your admirers paraded in on a daily basis.
Most came to you, but for a precious few, you came out.

You had an iron stomach and a passion for food.
The pork chops, mashed potatos, broccoli, and cheesecake,
Two more meals for me became your evening snack.
Dreading what might come, I made your bed in the garage.
But morning found you quite as pleased with you as the night before.

I remember the morning you missed the jump into the truck.
My bags hit the drive as six years of mother reflexes caught and hoisted your butt.
Going home, you made it, but screamed in pain as you moved from floor to seat.
The vet found nothing, but told of possible horrors awaiting long spines.
You promptly forgot and disdained assistance.

Was it the jump that did the damage,
Or the damage that caused the slip?
Should I have known you were at that age,
When human muscle replaces canine spring?
I'll never know.

One rear foot, chewed on, and starting to drag,
The beginning of the end.
Boots, cones, human assistance, and the end of walks.
Out, go, in, down, your life got smaller.
You hated the wheels from day one.

Between rains in late January, I rolled you out front,
Thanking God you still could go on your own.
I stared at the stars preparing for my increasing duties in your decline.
As you locked eyes with me, my head filled with the words, "I'm done. It's up to you."
Lightness of heart pushed and pulled at the heaviness of the responsibility.

I'm a chicken, a hypocrite, and blind.
I'd thought it would be easy, letting go this girl who wasn't mine.
Tired from four weeks of my waffling, you gave me a sign.
Tuesday you seal walked to Carl; Wednesday you just raised your head.
Thursday, he crawled under the desk, but you were too tired to care.

You went to Rainbow Bridge on Friday, and I went home to bed.
I fought my guilt, my shame, my infinity of ifs.
In Monday's pre-dawn twilight, you came to me, bounding across a field, radiating joy,
You came to set me free; In that sweet instant, all was forgiven, and all became clear.
I love you. And you love me.

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