I didn't sleep much last night. My eyes popped open at 1am and Frankie was on my mind, of course. But I woke with the memory of his closed eyes and my own words... "There were no marks on Frankie. No blood."
I remembered his time-stiffened body, the dogs greeting us on the porch... they had obviously been sitting with him for a long while, perhaps guarding his body from vultures or other scavengers. It occurred to me he could have died of natural causes; we had no idea how old he was. Maybe he died up by the truck and Max carried him down to the porch to protect his body until we got home. Or perhaps Frankie ventured down himself, knowing his time was at hand and wanting to be closer to us.
The thing is, he was lying there beside a mattress, blanket and toys that had been ripped and mutilated by a bored, energetic, teething puppy, yet he was virtually untouched.
Racked with remorse over my earlier anger, I slipped out of bed and tiptoed outside to apologize for jumping to conclusions. Belle wiggled and wagged over to me for some petting; Max rolled onto his side, allowing me to scratch his belly. Apology accepted.
We're still not sure what happened to Frankie. We'll never know, but that's okay. It's highly likely one or both of the dogs contributed to his death in some way, but when I think about Frankie's strange behavior of late (I mentioned to Kendall that I thought he might be deaf)... his little eyes closed as in sleep... and little or no evidence of violence around him, I realize it's a distinct possibility that he just died of old age. He was pretty persnickety, after all.
At any rate, as several dear friends and the Girl reminded me today, he had a good, happy life with us, and I'm grateful for the time we were given with him. I have an image of him walking in a wildflower-filled meadow, chirping/chatting with Ruthie. I believe he never stopped mourning or searching for her (remember all of those house inspections?) Now his search is over.
I've been overwhelmed by the words of sorrow and sympathy expressed to me over the death of my goofy little guinea, by the blessings and well-wishes sent to me via Facebook, email, phone, my blog... I am so blessed. The words have been a big hug that eased my heart. Thank you so much.
One friend shared the beautiful story of losing her beloved dog to a pack of pitbulls... she described feeling the same punch in the gut I felt when I first spotted Frankie and knew he was gone. But she also shared a vision she had of her puppy in heaven, before the throne of God, and how that vision comforted her. It also comforted me.
Another friend shared this quote, which is so true...
"Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is to learn to swim." (Thanks, Lynn.)
This evening Tom and I took the dogs for a walk. It was gray and Houston humid. It was also quiet - although Frankie hasn't walk with us in over a week, today the silence, the absence of his constant chattering, was deafening. There was just the clumping of our footsteps, the panting of the dogs and the birds calling to each other. Tom and I were lost in our own thoughts: he searched for fossils; I searched for great photo ops. But my heart just wasn't in it... there were no new flowers and I didn't want another photo of the dogs rough-housing. Not today.
I finally spotted this deer print in the mud. It reminded me of how fleeting life is... here, then gone in a blink, with just a tiny imprint left behind.
My heart... it passed the EKG and I must have answered the doctor's questions with the right answers because he believes my heart palpitation was something called a SVT, or Supraventricular Tachycardia, basically an electrical short circuit in my heart that causes it to pound and race. Because my beats were regular and I experienced no other symptoms, like dizziness or chest pain, he called it "benign". I might have some or all of this mixed up a bit, but the impression I got was not to be too worried.
But then, it's all guesswork - other things have to be ruled out, so tonight I'm wired... I'm wearing a Holter monitor for 24 hours and next week I'll return for an echocardiogram to take a look at my valves.
(The hospital is near my son Daniel's apartment, so I took him to lunch, and of course, had him take a glamorous picture of me "wired"...)
Thank you all again for all of your prayers, blessings, words of comfort and sympathy, and well-wishes. They truly have been a blessing to me today.