I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you died. It was a Monday and I was out driving in the rain. There was thunder flashing in the sky, and I passed by an incandescent sign glowing a prosthetic green, and I thought about treating myself with the world’s best coffee. I’ll admit it – I never really liked coffee. But things change, and I needed to be kept awake nowadays. I heard that’s when you were dying: as I was rubbing my eyes, trying to fight exhaustion away.
I remember when we first found you. Sixteen years ago. A lifetime ago. We had just moved into our new house. Hardwood flooring. Leather couches. A life of luxury we weren’t accustomed to yet. That was the problem. With more rooms than we were used to, everything felt incomplete – empty even. It was my mother who said that someone like you would fill the spaces in between the new furniture and old cabinets and toys left riddled on the floor. Little did we know how true it would become.
You were young, naïve, and excited when we first met you. Maybe you did it with everyone who came to greet you, but you smiled as wide as your face would allow. You even peed a little. I laughed. Dad said that you still had so much to learn. He then told me to not let you kiss me because I didn’t know where your mouth had been. I told him that you didn’t know where my face had been either, but that didn’t matter to you. I guess that even in very beginning, you didn’t judge us for what we looked like but instead for who we were.
Cancer was the diagnosis. Our feet tap-danced a song of nervousness while we waited for him to find the right words. We knew before he said it. His eyes looked down initially, his chin jutted out, and he bit his lip, as though if he only held his mouth closed long enough, maybe he’d never have to tell us. At the time, you didn’t know what was going on. You looked at us with eyes of happiness – a countenance that followed you no matter where you were. I couldn’t take your unbridled joy. To be honest, I thought it was ignorance and stupidity that fueled the smile. Life was so simple to you. It was a constant blend black and white. No colours. No majesty. Just the dark and the light – Mocha. The name barely fit you.
You’ll never understand these words but know that I was wrong back then. I have grown over these years, and I’ve found out that the world doesn’t need colours to be happy. Colours are only perception. They fade and erase. A moment of vision and nothing more. Happiness is something less artificial, something less volatile. And for you, happiness was us – lines of black and white with names and feelings.
Now, I have to write a letter to change the world. Sure, these words are just black on white. White on black. But I hope I that the colours can come out. Because when you die, although life goes on after death and although I’m told that all winters end with spring, my world has changed. These words are testament to that. They are the sentences penned by a man realizing that time is fading, and us right along with it. You told me that. Not with speech, but with a smile. A smile that ended in a cry.
I came home a day after I was told you were probably going to die. The rain didn’t stop, but sometimes, it never does. For what it’s worth, I wanted to come sooner, but I invented a lifestyle for myself that kept me busy as opposed to full. You greeted me with a ceaseless grin. I sat beside you. You were crying underneath it all, afraid that you could not get up again. I looked in your eyes and whispered into ears that could not hear me. Calm. Calm. Stay calm. I petted your hair, ran my fingers through your white speckled chin. And I remembered.
I remembered when I first found you bleeding. I remembered how some of it rubbed on my hand as I tried to bandage you up. I remembered how my blood looked like yours. I remembered the time you bit into my hand by accident. I remembered the way you swim. I remembered going on walks with you. I remembered claiming the park as ours. I remembered how everyone knew it. I remembered calling you my first best friend.
I remembered sixteen years of a lifetime filled brimming with you in it, and as my hand stoked back and forth by your ears, and you slept, I saw the world like you did for a while. Blurred. Black. White. Then, gray.
You remained on the floor. I wasn’t sure if you were breathing. I went up stairs and wrote this. I’m sorry I didn’t stay to find out whether you were inhaling or exhaling. I’m sorry for everything. Most of all, I’m sorry we all die, and all I can do is write you a forever.
This is a piece I wrote after I learned that my dog was dying. I guess we all die, but it took me until now to realize that everything does. Even the world will. It’ll change. I won’t be around to see it. Either will these words, if they could see that is. But that’s okay – because in a Universe described by death, explosions, and cosmic gook, there was life in between it all.