I wear the necklace that I made out of her teeth much less these days, the smile she always wore that now, on occasion, I do. But both of our smiles are fragile.
Twelve years. It doesn’t get easier, only different – but that’s perhaps my fault, my choice. I never want to forget. – there are still triggers; but it has found a different place in my heart, one of warmth and fondness instead of pain. Now, a subtle smile crosses my face as I recall her beauty, and we again smile together.
Her ashes still rest by me, and the memories of those glorious days on the road from San Francisco, the long & accidental way to Austin. Austin wasn’t the plan, but as always, plans change – and we were needed there in the days following Hurricane Katrina to help. Every day an adventure. I had purpose. I was needed. The months living in The Enchanted Forest, both extraordinarily beautiful and full of sorrow, will remain in my heart, along with Bean, forever.
More than anything, she loved the car. I took her with me everywhere I could with me… but on that day – September 28th, 2005, she couldn’t come. Going to help a friend build a rain structure for a wedding reception, I was only gone for a couple hours. This time, however, she wasn’t waiting where we parked at the end of the driveway as she had always done before…
I learned moments later that her body had been found on the train tracks by friends at the Forest. Head crushed, but a stuffed toy, somehow, still in her mouth. I think that’s what they said. After the first words I wasn’t listening anymore.
Nearly always in these days of the year there’s a melancholy or need that comes over me – a longing. (Or, more appropriately said, it’s amplified.) A need to travel, to just go and watch cities & past disappear in the rearview mirror.
The way the Universe smiles on me sometimes, even when I don’t see it until later… A friend of mine, David, loaned me his car to do things I needed for four days, and on the last, after everything had mostly been done, I decided to give it all to Ruby – the only dog I’ve known who loves the car even more than Bean did. Starting at 5:30am, our drive began – sunrise at her favorite local park, then down to the Wharf where I took her for the first time as a pup of only four months old. Top down, loving every second of the wind & sunshine, we drove like beasts crunching bones & sucking the marrow out of the roads & the day, until the uncharacteristic San Francisco heat drove us back inside my apartment to rest in front of the fan.
Only a day later, when I realized the date, did the deep-seeded need become clear – it was my tribute to Bean, and all the miles we had driven together.
I look at the photo I took of her moments before we began our adventure, looking out the window of my van with a beautiful smile on her face – waiting for me to get in the car so we could go…
I’m sorry Bean, I thought I would see you sooner than this – but I had other things to do. I know you understand.
I miss you.
And one day, we’ll all drive again – you, Ruby, & me.
Until again, my sweet girl.