My parents’ dog Shanti’s favorite toy was a little stuffed animal lamb named Lamby. It had a white wooly back, hoofed legs, little nub ears, and pink face with ‘y’ shaped snout.
He’d pick it up with his teeth, growl, and shake it back and forth. If you grabbed the other end of it, Shanti would tug back with all his might and not let go. It would make you think his teeth and jaws were made of the strongest material on Earth.
If you told the dog to get Lamby, he would go find it at once. He was better at finding it than us. It could be hidden under the couch cushions and Shanti would still find it.
When he wanted to sleep Shanti would carry Lamby back to his pillow bed and nuzzle it.
All that fighting and finding and loving led to a lot of wear and tear. And eventually Lamby would split open and stuffing would come out. Then they’d hafta get a new Lamby. I think they went thru a few generations. And each time they’d find another one still mass-produced from the manufacturer ,and each time Shanti would adopt the new Lamby as if it had the same cohesive plush soul.
I saw the latest one this summer. It looked pretty new. The white hadn’t beiged yet. It looked out of both eyes. It would probably last for awhile.
Shanti died this November. He was almost 12 years old. A heart thing. He had a death cough last time I saw him. It made sense. So much sense I didn’t have the expecting feeling about it at first.
But sometime later I suddenly thought about Lamby laying alone in Shanti’s bed, never to be played with again, maybe to be thrown out eventually, maybe alive, maybe alive with emotions and confused why its soul mate isn’t snuggling it tonight…
And then I felt it, a sharpness in mid-center chest – The Reality of Loss.
Every loss seems to have a unique path to feel The Reality of it. Lamby. The big tree outside Grammy’s house. The last photo of Grandpa holding his newborn great grandson. Jack Collom reading his poetry with a magnifying glass. The James Joyce bust at closed-forever Connor O’Neill’s. Flocks of Canadian geese signaling the end of summer.
Erk… shhhk… wah…
The Reality of Loss…
The feeling that nothing should ever be lost, but it’s the most real thing that can possibly happen.