A couple of weeks ago, you randomly told me that Greta was going to doggy heaven.
I’m not sure where you learned about the inevitability. You told me, so matter-of-fact, that when Greta goes to doggy heaven she’ll be really happy because there will be a lot of frisbees. You told me that I’ll be sad but it’s all OK because when she dies you’ll be older, I’ll be older, and Greta will be really old. This is, of course, all true.
I was taken back by your wisdom and felt flooded with emotion because your Mom and I already had to send a dog to doggy heaven. Gianna was the first “child” your Mom and I had before you came along. We adopted her by chance, walking our bikes across the University of Puget Sound campus — a dog heaven on earth — during an adoption drive. Gianna was a middle-aged dog and took to us very quickly and enjoyed our many pre-children adventures. She had some wild streaks and was terrible on leash. She developed seizures after a couple of years that greatly declined her quality of life, and she couldn’t break out of the final seizure that ended her life.
I have never cried so hard as I did the day that she died. Those final months were difficult with her. I felt remorseful that we couldn’t do anything else to save her. I felt overwhelmed because we were unsure at the time that you would ever come along. I felt sad that she wouldn’t be in the picture if you did.
We’ve got a painting on the wall in the dining room. It’s a picture a border collie looking off into the sunset with a tennis ball nearby. Doggy heaven is filled with tennis balls, too.
Speaking of painting, you’ve been a working artist lately. You produced your first canvas the other day, graduating up from construction paper. Your technique and details are fast improving. Last month, you were in “stick figure mode” when painting people and princesses. Now you’re adding face features like eyes, eyelashes, angled noses, hair, eyebrows and, of course, crowns. On a nice day two weeks ago I yanked you off the dining table to go outside. You refused. I offered the compromise that you could paint outside. You were so content sitting in the middle of our walkway, painting the leaves that you saw on the ground. I could picture you being a young lady under a tree at a park with watercolors interpreting your observations. It’s all very romantic.
The world needs artists. It’s a bland world without them. Maybe it’s a phase or maybe it’s a calling, but something tells me you’re going to be an artsy kind of person. Maybe painting will be your medium, or music, or something else. The world needs artists like you to inspire and touch people. Even the bittersweet parts of life, like doggy heaven, have a place on the wall.