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Last night, my husband and I finally watched the final episode of Lost. Yes, I know we're a bit behind the times. We didn't start watching until the show had gone off the air. That's not what this is about.
This scene had me tearing up for another reason, altogether. Okay, fine. Jack died. I kinda saw that coming. What I didn't expect was that Vincent, the dog, would come out of the jungle and lay beside him as he took his last breath. That's what really got to me.
When I was seven, my mom got me a puppy. Her name was Maggie. I will always remember the day I got her. My mother picked me up from school, where I was in second grade. It was February. We walked out to the car, where I immediately noticed a towel in the front seat. Lifting the towel, I found a tiny, wriggling black dog. She was small enough to fit in my still-small hands, and she was adorable. Most of all, she was mine.
I didn't always treat Maggie quite right. I can remember being resentful of her as I had to clean up her messes and take her out to potty in the backyard. I remember playing rough games, probably unintentionally inflicting pain in my play, but that she would always play right along. I would dress her up in my old clothes and put on doggie fashion shows, too, likely humiliating the poor mutt. There was one time when she sat down on my slipper and peed. I felt the hot liquid oozing around my toes and immediately freaked out. I was, after all, only seven and the idea of pee on MY toes upset me quite a bit. I picked her up and tossed her onto her newspaper in the bathroom. I didn't throw her, just a little toss, but it was still unkind.
Yet, I loved the dog. I baked her dog treats and cakes for her birthday. I filled her stocking at Christmas and made sure she had a new sweater under the tree. In fact, one year I even crocheted her a doggie sweater. She didn't like my human friends, but to me, she was the best.
As I watched Jack's death scene and Vincent came into the picture, I began to remember that Maggie was always around when I felt ill. On a normal day, she didn't like to go into my bedroom. However, when I was sick, she would come lay on the floor beside my bed. My mother once told me that dogs could tell when their people didn't feel well and always tried to make them feel a little better.
Maggie died several years ago. I wasn't by her side. I had moved away from home and she had been sick for a long time. Emotionally, I'd already buried her. She was no longer my friend. She was just my mother's old, crabby dog. I didn't help my mother wrap up her body and take it to be cremated. I didn't say goodbye. I didn't lay beside her as she left this life behind. Again, to me, she was already gone.
But, Maggie wouldn't have been that cold-hearted and careless towards me. She would have pawed me, licked my face, and made me realize that it was okay. Her presence would have relaxed me, as did Vincent's on Jack's day.
I have two dogs now and, to me, they're just pets. They aren't friends, they aren't really family. They're dogs who entertain me. They play with my kids. They live in my house and sometimes give me kisses. But, they're still dogs. However, in Maggie's memory, I'll be extra kind to my two dogs this Christmas. I'll bake cookies for them with the kids. I may even give them a stocking (no, probably not.) At any rate, I won't let them be cold or lonely because, like them or not, they are my companions.