Remember the day I brought you home?
A little grey-gold rat with eyes that were black and sooty and curious. And the wet little nose that poked itself into corners and rubbed itself against my cheek, sending sharp slices of warmth into my heart.
I close my eyes and conjure up an image. Grey-gold rat with black eyes. Squashed face that I always referred to as a squashed cabbage leaf and you, not knowing you should look at me reproachfully, nibbled my toes instead. But the image in my mind isn't enough. It floats here and there and I reach out a hand to touch it but it breaks into a million pieces. I know the warmth and light once existed but I can't feel it anymore. I can't feel you anymore.
Little drummer dog, sleeping peacefully beneath the grass. Is the sock we tucked in next to you a warm reminder of how loved you were or can you not feel it? Do you dream under the wet earth, little drummer dog?
Our dreams went with you. Home became a house, cold and empty. We tried to replace you with television and beer and laughter that wasn't rich, laughter that didn't reach the very tips of our toes.
You became a dream. A dream that becomes more dreamlike as the sun set into the sky. The little jacket that you used to wear in the crisp cold of winter doesn't smell of you anymore. The little golden hairs that are still on it, aren't yours. Were you ever here, little drummer dog? Or were you an illusion? A little grey-gold being that swooped down for a moment and fled before we could hold you safely in our arms. One moment of laughter, one moment of warmth. Moments never last.
You may be a dream but you were a wonderful dream. When I'm in the shadows, I close my eyes and I think of your little black face and your soft ears and your warm, wet tongue and I tiptoe softly into the light.
I remember the day you went, little drummer dog. It looked like you were sleeping. We wrapped you up and put you in a little basket with your yellow squeaky fish- the one Mama gave you for Christmas- and the leash you used to strain against while barking at milk cans. And the sock- it belonged to a man you never knew but who I loved very much and in a way, it feels that you are both together, not under the ground but flying through the sky. I kept touching you that night, hoping you'd wake up, but you grew cold, so cold, and when we put you into the earth, I knew you'd sleep forever.
Are you sleeping now, my little drummer dog? Are you sleeping peacefully under the wet earth and grass and damp? Or have you run beyond, beyond the horizon and into the blinding light? You are my light. You are the dreams I dream at night. Elusive and untouchable, but reminding me I'm not alone.
The warmth in my heart that your coming put there, and your leaving didn't take away.