Thursday, June 18, 2009

14 Years Ago

14 years ago today, Chandler and I met. I wrote about that meeting last week. He gave me 14 wonderful years of love. At times he frustrated me, at times I upset him. But through it all, I loved him with all of my heart.

I have heard from so many people saying how they didn't like little dogs until meeting Chandler. He was such a presence. No one could resist him. My friend Rani never met Chandler in person, but she got to know him through me. Yet without ever seeing him or seeing the two of together, she saw the connection he and I share.

Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Chandler of his or her own. I am so grateful for the time we had together. And as only Chandler could, he even made his passing easy for me. He fought a good fight. Much more than most humans could endure, especially an 84 year old man. He let me know when it was time to go.

Chandler brought so much to my life. And now that he is gone, I feel as if the best part of me is gone. I know this is part of the grieving process, but that is how I feel now. At times I think, "was it all a dream? How could someone so wonderful and full of love have been in my life for 14 years and then suddenly be gone?"

When I was little, I had a stuffed dog named Bow Wow. He was my everything. It may sound strange, but in someways, I think Chandler was Bow Wow personified. As said in The Velveteen Rabbit

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Bow Wow is now furless, eyeless and shabby. He became real for me. This is not at all meant to take away from who Chandler was. This is meant to say that all the love a child has for his favorite stuffed animal is what I felt for Chandler. Perhaps that can give some inkling as to who Chandler is for me.

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