I remember the day
we were heading to your room
unsure what we would find,
as you were slowly slipping away.
All of a sudden I felt a presence
next to me on the side
White Wolf usually travels
but who with no fuss relinquished his space
to The Old Dog,
in her splendorous form,
young now and carrying her lead
allowing us to take her
to her dying mistresses room.
It was at first unsettling,
then it felt right and comfortable
as we showed her the way
along corridors unknown to her,
going to keep watch,
waiting to go with you on a last walk together.
Once in the room she jumped
on the end of your bed,
dropped her lead and curled up protective,
projecting her familiar presence,
as one by one others arrived,
family long and recently departed,
people not seen for many years,
some never seen or known,
peace being made between you and them,
forgiveness and understanding
shared at last preparing for new beginnings.
As I felt them arrive,
and though unresponsive to us,
at each appearance
you nodded and said, ‘Yes,’
clearly acknowledging their attendance,
the room crowding palpably with comfort,
while the drip numbed your pain.
The following week
when we returned The Old Dog
now sat beside your bed
her lead once more in her mouth,
waiting as you slowly moved beyond us,
clearly there were only hours left,
your breathing laboured and raspy.
At one point when it was right,
I stood up and leaned over you,
and gently spoke the Lord’s Prayer
followed by the 23rd Psalm
reminding you that your lord
was indeed your shepherd,
and you would dwell in his house forever,
I worked from memory,
reaching for words I no longer use,
but that were familiar to you
to offer reassurance and solace.
We left after several hours,
I sensed we did not need
to be there when you died,
that our continued presence was unnecessary,
for beyond any doubt you would be welcomed
at your crossing by those who
the week before gathered at your bedside,
but more importantly,
when you rose from your body to journey on,
your faithful companion would offer you her lead,
and seizing it The Old Dog would take you
on the most amazing walkies ever.
This is written about the experience I had when my dear friend Wendy died over the summer. When I would ring her over the years my greeting would be: ‘It’s me.’ To which she would respond, ‘Hello, you.’ I can still hear her saying those words that cheered me through some dark and difficult times. But I know she is safe and in the company of her loved ones, not the least of whom being Misty, The Old Dog.