Monday, August 11, 2008

Shadow

by Carrie

Shadow was the name of our late Golden Retriever, taken from the name of the dog in the movie Homeward Bound. She was the “lesser” daughter of a champion breed owned by my friend, Jemboy. Shadow had a defect – a very long tongue she couldn’t keep in. It perpetually hung outside of her mouth and we would always bring a small wet towel with us whenever we would walk her so we could wipe the dirt off her tongue.

Shadow was a big dog and it was part of my weekend ritual to give her a bath. She always knew when it was time and when she sees me with her bath stuff kit, she would bark and wag her tail like crazy. She would put her head on my shoulders as I shampoo away. Either that or her two front paws. I always end up as soaked as she is, with dog hair all over me.

Two years ago, Shadow passed away. It was the day after my mom’s birthday. My mom and I were in my room chatting (can’t remember why she was there at 6 am on a drizzly Sunday morning) when our helper came in and told me to please check on Shadow because she wasn’t moving.

Shadow died in her sleep. They said it was a heart attack. Everyone was crying. Our neighbor rushed over, alarmed, thinking the worst. When she found out what happened, she could only stare speechless at all of us (you know how barrio folks are, a dog’s death is just that – a dog, dead. She couldn’t comprehend what the big sad deal was). Mom insisted to have her (Shadow, not the neighbor) buried at our back yard. And she stayed on until she was laid to her final rest and her grave covered. We placed flowers on top of the grave and lighted two candles.

Lunch was a sad meal. The drizzle turned to a downpour so I went out to take the candles and what I saw made me stop in surprise. I could feel goose bumps spreading from the top of my head to my entire body. The two cats that would always share Shadow’s meals (and most times would sleep beside her) were lying on top of his grave and they were making this sound, like they were crying. I tried to shoo them away but they just gave me this trademark cat look (they turned their heads, looked at me and then looked away dismissively) – if they could talk, they would have said “Can you please leave us alone? Can’t you see we’re in grief?”

Cats don’t like getting wet. But Shadow had been nice, tolerant and accommodating to them. Maybe, they could feel she was gone. Maybe, it was their way of paying their last respect – by enduring the rain.

The cats stayed until late afternoon. On top of the grave. They kept vigil for their beloved friend. And from that time on, my cat alienation has softened a bit. These cats, they have a heart after all.

1 comment:

sam said...

nice story :)