Tuesday, October 07, 2008

For Riley

For the last few months, I've been suffering huge, disgusting bouts of insomnia, and for those who know me, that's rare. Just my condition alone requires tons of rest, then mix in my cocktail of medication and I should pass out rather quickly. Yet... here I am.

I spoke with one of my very dear friends tonight (shout out to Ang!) and she mentioned trying to blog more often, and to capture one humorous part of her day and write about it. I found it a neat concept. I've often whined on here that I'm not sure what to write, but I know I need to be, so I thought of her idea, and yet nothing funny came to mind.

Tons of other stuff did though.

Friday morning I lost a very good friend of mine. Her name was Riley. She was a tiny little puppy in this huge cage at the pound, shivering against the wall. I never knew why they had her isolated. She wasn't the dog I went to see. She was maybe 10 weeks old. But I asked to see her, and when we got out to the "play yard", she came alive, running and bouncing, and when she wagged her tail, her entire body wagged right along.

We already had Samson back then, who was a Newfoundland mix, so HUGE. I'd been looking for him a playmate, and had wanted something large enough to handle his playing. Instead, I found this little redhead with golden-green eyes and this goofy under-bite that made her grin like the Grinch.

About two weeks later, I heard about big puppies at the store here in town and went to see, since they were the kind of breed I'd originally searched for. And being me, I took one home, and named her Delilah, to go with Samson. However, having two new puppies, four kids, and the slew of other animals at the time proved to be too much for me and for the longest time, Delilah and Riley were simply outside farm dogs. Samson couldn't be contained (we tried everything in the book) so we rehomed him for fear of him being hit. We live on a highway.

Last summer, after about two months of having Delilah, she died from a snakebite, but I barely knew her, hadn't really interacted much with her, and since it was summer, the kids and I were at my parents anyway.

So even with Samson rehomed and Delilah now dead, Riley was still this outside dog, seen once a day for food and water, and her entire body wagging with unbridled delight to be petted. My guilt knows no bounds.

I'm not sure what triggered it, but the last three months, Riley was integrated into the family fulltime. Inside dog. She wasn't very playful in general because of lack of interaction but she was protective to a fault, and her favorite activity became the morning school run to take the kids to school. Todd, the chihuahua, bounced between me and Carly in the front while Riley maintained one of the middle captain's chairs, Sydney being made to ride in the back because Riley had her post to maintain. And maintain it, she did. Anyone walking by our van would result in this low growl, and those intense gold-green cat-eyes of hers were beyond focused until the PTA Moms were no longer considered a threat. Every. Single. Morning. it cracked us up to no end.

Friday morning, I got up for the usual, and the first thing I do is put Todd and Riley outside. But I couldn't find Ri. Then I heard it. This horrible keening sound. I found Brian and told him. He went out and found Riley in the ditch... hit. He drove the truck down the driveway with her in the back and covered her with a blanket. I took the kids to school with just Todd, Carly just instinctively knowing... Cooper and Sydney still too sleepy to notice. And by the time I made the 15 minute round trip, Riley had died. She was in the back of the truck, covered in a navy fleece blanket, and I undercovered her, and her golden-green eyes still shined, and her under-bite held her infamous grin, forever staying just like that. I petted her, I kissed her head, and I thanked her for loving us. And for some odd reason, just last week, Carly captured this wonderful picture of her grinning and those cat-eyes. In all the time we had her, a photo was JUST taken that truly grabbed her personality. Such odd timing.

I walked into my house and didn't think about it. The amount of animals we've lost since living out here is astounding. I had a PEACOCK hit by an 18-wheeler. Who DOES that? Who lives in a place like that? Me.

My only consolation when it comes to Riley's life was that at the end, she was a very vital part of our family and not just the country dog living in the backyard. But damn if I can do the morning school run and not still listen for the growl from the backseat as mothers pass our van.

It's 3:10am and pouring down rain, a pretty decent Texas thunderstorm, and tonight is the first night I've cried for Riley. Maybe I had to wait for God to cry with me.

I haven't posted this because of some issues in my life. If you look at recent postings, they're all generic. I've lately discovered that evil truly lies in the oddest of places and the most unsuspecting of persons, and I have no doubt that some out there would take this pain my family is suffering and joke about it, and make light of it, or even say we deserved it, so I hadn't posted like I should about personal stuff just to try to keep them out of my life, and then I realized that I'm giving them way more importance over me than they deserve. And they know who they are. They are the ones dead to me.

Riley will forever live on.

I miss you, Ri. You were my friend, my guardian and protector, and the one with the grin that always made me laugh when I was quite sure I'd never laugh again, and for that, I will forever be thankful. I hope you died knowing you were loved, because you were. Hugely.


Lexi said...

Aw, she was a cutie! Sorry for your loss.

Mo said...

I'm just getting back to the web world, and was checkin in, to find this bit of bad news. So sorry for your loss, my friend. She was a cutie, and will always be with you in your heart.