The routine is always the same but the cold weather has slowed it down; Lucas will be the first to stand up, he will flap his ears hard to let everyone know it’s time, and then everyone slips off the bed one by one, except for Lilith who will crawl over to me to be snuggled. Sam will come over to my side of the bed and I reach out my hand to find his ears. Lilith does kiss me but she jumps down and whines now and I can hear Lucas milling around the room with Tyger. My hand is out in empty space. Sam can always be heard stumbling over a stray shoe or his own feet, but he always makes his way over to my hand that is sticking out to find his ears.
I wait for Sam but then I realize I don’t hear him. My foot goes out to find his mass on the bed and it isn’t there.
“Sam” the word carries in the dark room, the moonlight coming through at a low angle, but I already know.
I turn the light on and Sam is curled up on the blanket near the window and I silently count, one, two, three, four, five, and Sam’s side does not move.
I build a small fire for illumination and I get out the shovel. The memories come back to me, the time he chased rats that came out of the fire fueled by a giant mound of brush, and Sam and the owls hunted together in the darkness. An hour later my muscles hurt and I wonder how this is going to feel, to write these words that I knew that soon I would.
Sam is dead.
The body slumps into the grave and I know it’s deep enough because I hear a small splash. The water table is way up now. I fill the grave in layers, tamping down, making sure that nothing digs Sam up again, I couldn’t bear it. I put the same old gate I used to cover Bert’s grave over Sam’s and weigh it down with some fence posts.
Sam knew more about the gods that run the Universe than I and he certainly knew more about Hell. Sam knew more about Hell because for the first part of his life he lived it. The abuse heaped upon the puppy that would become Sam was horrifying. I have never seen anything like it before or since. Sam knew more about gods because he know nothing at all, which is more than those who claim to know something. But if there are any gods out there, and love and happiness and loyalty and wanting to be petted on a dog’s head means anything, if anything that dog went through and still came out wanting to love us people, if it means anything to anyone out there at all, please, take care of Sam’s weary soul. Forgive me for not being able to heal the harm he had suffered and please know that with my own injured mind and unwell hands, I offer his body to the earth, and his soul to love.
With my heart,