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I picked up his ashes yesterday. I sat in the car and rocked him, Bode, Bode, Bode, trying to get my arms around how I could miss him so.
You know how it was with him and me. We were connected - so connected that there was some thought when I grew a beard, as white as the Bode's snout, a few years ago that I might finally be crossing over. Truth be told, I'd crossed over long ago to seeing so many things through him every day:
how windy by the rustling of his fur
how hard it rained by the wetness of his coat
how cold by the fog of his breath
how warm by where he laid in the sun or shade
how sweet the grass by how much he ate
how ripe the persimmons by how hard he tugged to free them from the branch
how rigorous the hike by the length of the nap
how swift the river by how far he drifted from shore
and how long I'd been away by how excited the welcome when I came home
A stranger sitting next to me on a flight once asked: "So how old is the bode?" I'd been talking about him. What possibly could I have said? That I love
his Dr. Seuss feet
the weight of his paw, yours to hold as long as you needed
his teeth-baring smile, held for friends
the sea of his coat
his soft, pliable tongue, the way it touched you way beneath the skin
the lean against your leg
his big head
his little "bear shittin' in the woods" ears
the thump of the tail against the floor whenever I said his name
those big brown eyes; the innumerable expressions of his curious eyebrows
his gyroscopic sense of balance when riding in the car
the way he offered his paws to wipe, front then back, before coming in during the winter
his patience with Bella
his jaunty gait
tufts of his hair
the lilt in Marjorie's voice whenever she said his name
his big, warm heart
I have watched him sit quietly between two old women and their walkers at the park, while the other dogs chased frisbees and tennis balls, touch and be touched until they were satisfied.
I've watched him stand steadfast when he was a pup while screaming little girls and aggressive boys poked and prodded, patted his head, touched his eyes, pulled his ears and tail at the playground when we walked Jeff to school.
I overheard a conversation as I sat on a bench waiting for him to catch up this summer. "Where do you feel it, in the hips?" He was walking up the path beside a man with a cane. "I know what you mean, old soldier," the man said. "I know what you mean."
He moved among us like a bee from flower to flower gathering nectar, pollinating.
Pups licked his mouth. Older dogs were intent on his scent. He carried a world in his coat - the woods, the grass, the river, whatever there was that was good to roll in, all melded with his essential musk.
He was stoic, noble, a cheese head, an old soul. We marveled at his oneness with it all, then learned that Bodhi, the Sanskrit word, means Awakened. Knowing. Enlightened.
We watched him mount the trunk of our Asian pear tree - the Bodie tree - then sidle with his front paws to the end of a branch to snatch a cluster of fruit - enlightenment in action.
He would have been 14 today, a lifetime in dog years. Hardly enough. He is woven into the fabric of our family, and we miss him terribly. But we're going to lift a glass in celebration of him and his holy order tonight, on this Bodie Day, a reminder for me of a marvelous time when every day was Bodie Day.
Thanks for your many kindnesses.
More reading for pet lovers:
Rescuing Sprite: A Dog Lover's Story of Joy and Anguish,
by Mark R. Levin
Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog,
by John Grogan
How To Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication,
by Stanley Coren