Today Is the Moment of Today I Breathe
There are stories from the past of someone I once knew. The stories from an old soul who couldn’t quite encapsulate the reasons for why they came true. Today, these stories are set free so she can start anew.
I woke up around one o’clock today. I walk downstairs and take a seat with my Mom in the living room. Dad is outside fiddling around. My eyes glance at the college material I need to read on the floor. I am in the spring semester of my junior year, but I need to get a head-start. She’s reading Home and Garden.
Sasha and Toffee are barking incessantly.
These dogs are humans in my parents eyes. They sleep on the furniture. They sleep on the bed. I even feed them food with a fork, sometimes. They think with their belly – a true Cocker Spaniel.
Sasha is smart. I wonder if she knows what people are saying because she picks up on our action’s quite fast. She is a black Cocker with white on her chest.
Toffee is the opposite.
Weighing in at merely 25 pounds whereas Sasha is a whopping 49 pounds. She is named after the candy – Toffee – one of mom’s favorite delicacies. Her coat is curly with an amazing shine. Her ears are long with little curls about.
And those eyes are the most beautiful shade of green I’ve ever seen. You see her soul when looking into them.
Toffee has a trick, too.
Ask her a question and she will respond with a different noise each time. She is a bit skittish as well. She is always up at night, hardly sleeping a wink. Her soul is restless.
She finds peace outdoors. She finds peace on the water’s edge. She drinks buckets of suds when we wash the car.
And, she never listens.
She also chases cars.
I am reading my pamphlets, I look outside. Kids are playing. People are mowing the grass. The neighborhood is buzzing with life. Some people walk by with their dogs and ours bark in response. A quick,
Sasha minds herself. Toffee does not.
“Toffee, why can’t you just be quiet?”
Today of all days I choose to say this.
I scold her. She never takes me seriously. She sits down, finally, and looks at me with this pitiful look of sorrow. I hear Dad looking for some light-bulbs. Tossing things around, he yells,
“Where’s the step ladder?”
“I don’t know,”
He finds them and says,
“Pups, do you want to come outside?”
They scamper out the door.
“Mom, he really shouldn’t take Toffee out without the leash.”
“Toffee listens to your father,”
He is the only person she listens to in actuality. I pick up where I left off.
The tires screech.
Life slows down to milliseconds.
Today of all days is the day I catch a glimpse of living in the moment.
I’m running as fast I can to get outside to my chocolate puppy. I see her on the concrete.
“No! No! No! She’s not dead. She can’t be dead. Not her?”
I am holding her limp body in my arms. Cradling her. Looking at her. I want the blood to stop. I need the blood to stop.
“She’s dead. Leave her alone.”
“No, she’s not! Look! Her eyes are still open.”
She’s panting hard. She’s dying.
“I love you, Toffee.”
She takes one last breath, looks into my eyes and says goodbye.
I look around. Nothing makes sense. I see him. He gets out of his truck and looks at me. I don’t know him very well; a neighbor from down the street. His accent is strong. His hands are callused and rough. He isn’t pleasant to talk to either. I run over to him.
“You killed my dog! You killed my dog!”
“I wouldn’t kill your dog for nothing, dear.”
“You bastard, you killed her! I hate you. I hope you die!”
I look up as I find myself beating my hands on his chest. The pain is real. I want him to feel. I want him to feel what I feel.
“He didn’t kill her. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Leave him alone,”
He gets back into his truck.
I run inside. Mom is on the phone with a veterinarian. The only clinic open is 30 minutes away. She makes the appointment. She goes outside and wraps her up in a blanket. We put her in the back of the Explorer.
I look at the concrete. I wasn’t sure if it was ever going to be washed away. No amount of soap is going to fix this. My neighbor comes over. I’m in shock.
He puts his arms around me and says,
“Tara, shush. It’s gonna be okay. I loved her, too.”
“She wasn’t even a year old,”
“Tara, at least it wasn’t a little child playing out in the street.”
“But, she was a child; to me she was a baby.”
I am 17. It’s all #Perspective.
I crawl into the back of the car and hold her all the way to the clinic. I am praying and begging for a miracle. My dad carries her inside the doors.
On the way home, dad keeps saying,
“She is such a pretty dog. Such a pretty dog. It’s my entire fault. I never should’ve called her. I never should’ve taken her outside.”
“Dad, it’s not your fault. It isn’t.”
Toffee is across the street. Dad calls for her. She comes flying out of the bushes and meets her fate with the back tire of a truck. Her neck is broken instantly. She is 6 months old.
This lesson of brevity remains on constant repeat in my mind of my old soul. I get it now. I get it after years of contemplation. I get it now as the soul of a Yogi settles into my bones.
Today, I get it.
And with getting it, today,
I release the memory.
So my final adieu to breathe,
my sweet Toffee:
I used to have a bug
with hair of chocolate brown.
She came into my life as a guide.
She was my angel, I believe.
The greenest of eyes and a spirit so high it could fly.
She was the best thing in my life at the time,
who helped me stand back up.
Then, as fast as she came into my life, she was gone.
My bug had flown away.
She left me with bewilderment, but much wiser indeed.
For this chocolate bugs name was Toffee.
The most beautiful dog I had ever seen.
I wrote this for you in college. Trying to undo what had been done. The mind of a child bearing the weight of a life set into motion. Mistakes and misfortunes on the horizon. Learning to walk a life not quite understanding. You are part of my healing. My letting go. One of many moments which has lead to the now.
Easter came and went. The day Toffee died, we were talking about how much she loves the water. Mom put in a pond that summer. She would’ve loved it. We bought our third dog, Zack because of her. He loved the water, too. We went on to have many more Cocker Spaniel’s as well. All breathing a beautiful life in the way dogs do. They have all lived far longer than Toffee. Sasha carried on for another 10 years; making it to 15. She mourned Toffee as well. She sat looking out the window for weeks, staring at the road. Zack became Sasha’s partner in crime. Side by side. Zack became my solace. I took him everywhere. Dogs have a healing power. They are with you for as long as they need to be. They are filled with comfort and joy as well as sorrow when we say goodbye.
These are the moments within the moments I embrace. Gratitude fills my wounds with grace.
Only you can change you. Stay beautiful!