The Little Girl and the Dog, the Best of Friends
By Wm. L. Maranda
When I leave for work in the morning, if I have the time, I take the long route - the scenic route through the forest preserve. After all, that's why I moved here from the city. The hills, the hollers and the forest which seem totally out of place for the Chicago area remind me of Eastern Kentucky, the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains where I went to college.
This morning I saw a group of deer. There was one large animal and five or six children eating the leaves and berries off a bush. When I first moved here from the city this was a big deal and I would take great pride in telling people, as if I lived in a wonderland of sorts. Sometimes I would even take pictures, of a fox or coyote or dozens of rabbits running across the prairie.
But now its' part of daily life, something that I now pretty much just take for granted. There's another city-guy, much like me, that lives down the street. When a large animal killed my tiny little dog he was at first appreciative of my feelings, but then stoically he added,
"Let's face it, out here in nature, for these animals that's normal."
"Back in the city, it's people doing it to other people."
"Don't you remember? That's why we left".
He was correct in his assessment and I did agree. But I didn't have the ability to dismiss my passionate love of the dog nor to embrace a firm restraint of the heartfelt pain, mostly due to the extremely violent manner in which the dog had died.
Many intellects in our society are driven by the Greek concept that once one has attained a certain degree of intelligence, they are then freed from the passions of a moral God-fearing man. They tend to give one the impression that they remain unmoved by things that bring normal people pleasure and sadness.
Out here in the woods these bozos think its' nature's way to be indifferent to pleasure and sadness just as God's creatures appear to be. They make every attempt to abide by some instinctual natural law that becomes evident in the manner they conduct themselves living their lives, especially in their voting habits.
This morning though, this sensuously aesthetic sight of the deer in the woods made me think of the words the little girl spoke last night.
These were lovely words, a child's words so dramatically lacking of logic and rationale they tumbled all my thoughts as I fell asleep last night.
As I lay in bed I found myself comparing the similarities of these rationale, knowledgeable words of the city-guy with the innocent words the little girl spoke. How could the sentence structures developed by two humans so distant in age, experience and adventures in life be so similar in thought, yet so removed with intent?
Just my Imagination
The train takes me home from the city central sometime before six. The train ride in and of itself is almost an hour, let alone the travel to and from. This long and boring commute is the price one is willing to pay for what is perceived as a 'Quality of Life' issue. Especially when the weather is bad, making the walking portion unpleasant, or a malfunctioning signal or cross-traffic delaying the train for a period.
These last few weeks though the most inhibiting part of this journey now comes upon me when I arrive home and back up the driveway. As goofy as this may sound, my arrival home has now become the absolute, most difficult part of my commute.
Why could this be? Because that tiny silly, little dog isn't there to greet me with that "DINNER IS HOME" look in her eyes.
And boy do I ever miss her.
Last night was much different, though. When I came home from work as I got out of my truck I looked down the driveway. I saw the little girl standing there next to her bike. Then I had one of those "Twilight Zone" moments.
I thought, just for a splinter of a second, I thought that I saw that the dog was with her. This is probably because once I came home from work they were always together playing. Playing in the way only little kids and dogs can play, with that abundance of energy and no sense of time, comfort or effort.
But on this late summer's eve she just stood there smiling at me maniacally. She stood there next to her bicycle staring straight through me and smiling, with this uncanny universal power sucking the soul right out my heart.
She always had that peculiar smile; a smile pulled tight across her face, lips high wire taut and straight as a line. Each blink of my eyes and that peculiar, maniacal smile caused the dog to appear then fade away into the asphalt.
She knew. And she was confused. Her best friend, the dog wasn't 'home'.
She knew with a solid sense of truth in its purest form that there was nothing in Heaven or on Earth that would bring her Little Miss PeeWee back to us.
So she just stood there with that smile, that maniacal straight-line smile her eyes squint and almost as narrow, her stance solid and stoic as an eagle.
On any other day, any other normal day, as I would back my truck up the driveway the little girl would come running across the street. She was usually carrying something, a kid education 'tool' like a butterfly net, sand-shovel, binoculars or a microscope. Always the studious, industrious, creative one, always, without a doubt, she was always 'teaching' the dog.
Once she got up the long driveway, she would seem to pull herself up into the air and float on her toes, twisting from side to side, with that crispy-thin straight line smile coming in between mile-a-minute words that were spaced erratically because she was almost out of breath.
"Bill, Bill... Bill, Bill,...
"Look, ... my new dress."
"We went on trip,... a field trip,..... at school today."
"Do you have,.. any chores,...chores that I can do?"
"PeeWee,... Can PeeWee,... come out to play?",
"Can I,..... feed the fish?"
But it was the dog that she wanted most of all.
There are familiar sayings that come with the pleasant salutations the humans use to greet and describe one another; but with the little girl and the dog, they actually were inseparable. They actually were the best of friends.
And for me now, to see the little girl's smile is to see the dog.
I Am What I Am
Having attained the age of eighteen, not enjoying the responsibilities of registering for the draft, voting and drinking responsibly, I had taken concerted measures to remain age sixteen all my life. I liked it much better back there.
I just needed to drive legally, that's all.
Beyond that point, I rationalized, adulthood with its' boundaries of a schooled thought processes could only cause ones' mind to become a structured, polarized world. This would undoubtedly inhibit one's freewill, thus causing the mind to decay and become rancid. After all, it seemed logical if I choose to allow God's divine intervention to dominate my life in the manner Jesus described as a 'childlike' attention to him don't I get a free pass into Heaven?
Problem solved, I'll remain sixteen.
So here I am, single, no kids, with more money than should be allowed to a single person in a decent, moral society and a conscience filled with decadent guilt that keeps me paranoid night and day.
Words of Love
I thought I had it all. But last night when I got home the little girl set me straight with a few simple words, words absent of the principles and criteria that demonstrate an adult's misperception of the intellectual knowledge and wisdom gained through aging. She came up the driveway and said;
"You know what you shouldda done Bill."
"When PeeWee got killed, you shouldda gone right out to the store and bought another dog that looked just like PeeWee, named her PeeWee and then we couldda pretended like it never happened."
And we do that all to often. Wreck the car? Go to the car store and get a new one that looks just like the old one. Have a stupid job? There are plenty more where that one came from. The kitchen cabinets need varnishing? Don't bother, they're on sale at Manard's.
To age and become old is to lose the great perception of life in the manner God meant it to be for the humans.
To be young, innocent is a life explained in selective detail, as many of the more negative aspects of life are tempered for children by the larger humans.
These simple words that the little girl spoke to me are respective of the many misperceptions we had when life was fresh, unimpaired.
We are teaching by our actions and she is learning through observation to become an "Adult" by the merits of the ones who have lived beyond her limited comprehension of age. She is looking at me, the neighbors and her parents and relatives. She's looking at all the other larger humans, and making every attempt to mimic us, to walk in our steps in an effort to please us and establish her own ramifications of our perceive knowledge.
Realizing this did something for me. I now wished that I had a wife and kids to feel that way about me in my time of grief, the way the little girl's family is helping her cope with the way she felt about the dog, her best of friends.
I could almost hear her mom telling her, as she lays comfort to her,
"Don't worry, don't cry, Bill loves dogs a lot.
You Know how much Bill loved little Ms. PeeWee, how much he misses her.
He misses little Ms. PeeWee just like you are missing little Ms. PeeWee.
Bill will surely get another doggie for us."
And in the little girls' mind she's making her best attempt to think in that great polarized, structured manner that the larger humans think with such frequent regularity.
For her, this is one of those, "What would I do if I were Bill?" moments in life, to which she so readily responds,
"I know just what I would do, I would go right out to the store....."
To me, in death, Little Ms. PeeWee had become 'the dog'. But to the little girl this 'dog', her best of friends, will always be encapsulated in her fond memories of her Little Ms. PeeWee. And, needless to say, that for both of us this death is much too difficult, too real and obviously much, much too painful for us to pretend that this cruel act of nature had never occurred.
With her at age nine, me at fifty-one, six-teen or somewhere in between, and all the other humans who are more and less, will our lack of true intellectual growth and maturity allow us to now 'enjoy' our sadness, our heartfelt pain?
Will we now enjoying being humans?
I don't know. I really can't answer that concept. But one thing we do know for sure is that Mom is always right, Mom said it best of all:
"Bill loves dogs a lot. Bill will surely get another doggie!"
I guess we'll just have to wait until that new dog arrives before we know.
The pleasure of life is always the best part. Save it for last!
Lt. Commander Ms. PeeWee Hermana de Maranda
January 1996 to June 16, 2005
In the early morning hours of June 16th, 2005 at 04:38, Lt. Commander PeeWee was killed in a battle with insurgents while defending the trash depot. It is obvious that this action was swift and brief in momentum, and we are assured that Lt. Commander PeeWee acted with bravery and decisiveness in defending our position.
She was always so generous with her kisses of Happiness.
It was a Thursday.
I woke up a few minutes before 4 AM, went to the bathroom and then couldn't fall back asleep, so I figured that I'd go for an early swim. I gave Little Ms. PeeWee some boiled chicken for breakfast and let her out back through the dinning room door.
Going upstairs with a cup of coffee to hit the john again and shave, I stumbled on the steps, due to the sandals that I was wearing. I felt that this was odd because I had on what I thought were my "Good" sandals, because I had stumbled so often before with the "Bad" sandals.
I broke the toenails on both big toes, and both started to bleed.
I came downstairs and put my lunch (rice) of happiness in the car. Then I went to the dining room door to let Little Ms. PeeWee in. She wasn't out back so I made the chirping sound to see if she was in the woods.
When I opened the front door it was more liking to Midnight than early morning as it was still very dark and cool, but mild. Immediately I saw what looked like a rolled up wet rag lying on the ground just in front of the Christmas tree.
I knew it was Little Ms. PeeWee by the color.
I knew this was a bad deal by the limpness.
Kneeling down next to her I petted her softly, feeling her warm, wet fur on the back of my fingertips. Her tongue was partially out, caught in a choking stance in between her teeth. Her eyes were open and looked normal, piercing, as if she was trying to see far away.
I thought I heard a last, final pant, yet this must have been my imagination.
She was definitely dead.
To Hold Death in Your Hands is to Truly Value Life.
I made a feeble attempt to lift her body but hesitated. It didn't feel right to just 'pick up a rag'. In shock, I went back into the house to get her red Mexican blanket by the dining room door. Once outside I gently rolled her body onto her blanket, folded it to enclose her and carried her inside to the garage. As she lay on the floor I kept looking at her, touching her, and trying, helplessly hoping, to get a response. I lifted her up and placed her on the tool case to keep her off the floor, thinking that the ants would eat her.
Now I knew, with a solid sense of truth in its purest form, that this was indeed death, the destroyer of life.
Contemplating the Ballast of Life
The morning swim put me in my usual trance, happiness through endorphin. This daily ritual offers the inner being an analgesic insensibility to pain, both mental and physical, without loss of consciousness. There have been countless days in my life when this was the only way I could concentrate while awake, the only way to converse with the Maker of Life.
As I tilt my head to the side, each breath of pure, clean life is timed in precision and slightly sweet, tainted rich by chlorination. As I stroke forward, head down facing the race line, each long steady exhalation is to sing hollow, willingly in monotone, to the waters of life. This style of breath is not an animation of life, but a chant, a serenade to the stability and the graciousness of life.
While in rotation this death made me think of how when I stubbed my toes, hard enough to make them crack, swell and bleed, my Little Ms. PeeWee had probably inhaled her final breath. Little Ms. PeeWee was reaching out to me, her best buddy, spirits-forever-held-tangent, for one last hug and kiss.
At the mile mark this Ballast of Life became weak. I swam harder attempting to compensate. This is something marathoners often do because we don't get tired. We persevere; we overcome; we win, even when we lose.
But my Little Ms. PeeWee, I wasn't there for her....
That's when I lost it.
That's when it hurt heart to toe. I realized I had lost the balance in my life.
Reality became nothing more than my self-created delusional life. It was now impractical to be me. I now rejected my fictional, visionary state.
Hopelessness. Desperation. Dominating my every attempt at wellbeing.
This death now encompassed my total existence, squeezing and twisting the adrenaline rush out of my mind as with a wet rag releasing moisture.
Aerobics can only get you so far in life.
And with each and every kick off the wall, how even though I had thought I had been wearing my "Good" sandals, in fact they were every bit as unsteady and unsafe as the "Bad" sandals.
Sweet Life is gone so ever fast.
You think you are OK, it's just another day.
Not for Little Ms. PeeWee, not this time.