Doctors hurt too… Leave it to a dog to break the hearts of me and my family.
For the past seven years I’ve sent out a Christmas letter from the point of view of our little white and brown-spotted, Havanese dog, Sammy, put into words I imagined he’d use. Sadly, he passed away this summer. Holy crap! It was—and still is—heart wrenching. A dog leaving a huge void in our lives? It’s still taking a bit of time to get over this.
Why is that?
I suppose I’ll always see him as a child, one who never grew up, and perpetually dependent on our love and attention, but returning it back multiple times over. He was content in-the-moment, forgiving of everything and yet happy with the simplest of things—a model for all of us to follow. He gave us much more than we ever gave him. Call me a stupid and silly grown man, but I still tear up thinking about him.
|Our late dog, Sammy, peering out the window with his toy lamb|
Anyway, below is “his” Christmas letter for this year, and I admit the hardest to write. It took me longer to start the letter than to do the actual writing.
The picture at the very beginning is the front of our card, formed in a tri-fold pamphlet with photos on one side and the following letter on the backside:
A Christmas Carol
The Ghosts of Sammy Past, Present and Future
In One Blissful Reverie of Dog-Speak
I died. That’s the God’s-honest truth. I wasn’t doing so well back in July and I quietly went to sleep but arose in this wonderful place. So I’m writing to you from another plane of existence, so to speak, where past and future all blend into one glorious here-in-the-now present.
After drying her tears, Lauren eventually resumed school and started her junior year at Gonzaga in the nursing program. This is her clinical year with direct patient care at hospitals and other medical facilities. Some of it is gross but mostly intriguing and exciting though not as great as caring for dogs like me, and I was a handful, I’ll admit with a smile on my face. She lives in an apartment with three other humans. She does her own cooking and I saw her making salmon one night and it brought back fond memories when I always got the first bite off the grill or stove.
Nick flew in from Seattle to see me in my final Earthly days. He’s finishing his Master’s Degree in applied mathematics, and now that I’m up here I have a perfect grasp of everything he does, though the rest of my mortal family are still clueless when he explains it to them. It’s like a foreign language and they don’t have the benefit of translating it all into Dog-Speak which is the ultimate language that explains everything.
Mom still wishes I was around. I’d follow her all around when I was a pup and later watched her experiment with different types of cooking since I was the greatest taste-tester anyone could imagine. I always enjoyed hiding under the dining table whenever she wanted to take me for a walk, hiding amongst scores of Wiener-Monkeys (hotdog-shaped squeaky things with the face of a monkey—go figure) and other toys, making her crawl under the table to try and get me. Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I could do that all day. She still tears up from time to time and I wish she wasn’t so sad but she cheers up whenever she recalls the silly things I did, such as peeing on a newspaper picture of some political dude when I was potty-training. She won’t admit it but she needs another puppy.
Dad is serving as my surrogate writer since I lack physical paws to do so. He’s doing an OK job. He still runs barefoot and started racing again, having done some 5Ks and a 10 mile race all without shoes, but his feet will never, ever get as tough as mine, no matter how delusional his thinking gets. When asked why he likes racing he says, “I enjoy beating little kids and body-checking pregnant women with strollers,” on the way to the finish. When they’re in town, Nick and Lauren ran some of those races with Dad and as Nick puts it, “I can’t let the Old Man beat me!”
If you’ve lost a loved one this year, please don’t despair. I see them here. They’re kind to me, scratching my head, rubbing my belly and tossing Wiener-Monkeys for me to chase. Like me, they’re eternally happy, although their tongues aren’t sticking out like mine, but they’re happy nonetheless. Remember the great moments, how they shaped and enriched your life and added to your happiness. Take solace knowing they’re in a good place here with God. Oh yeah, and Jesus, which is what this (and every) season is all about—isn’t it?
The Late Sammy Fong
for Randy, Nancy, Nicholas & Lauren