An Absence

August 20, 2010

Our friend Tim’s best friend was named Redmond Cooney, but we called him Red. A solid creature, a mutt, with a massive rottweiler head, a sturdy body, and a muscular tail that seemed to have a life of its own.

Redmond made himself known to Tim on a stroll through Central Park during a weekend visit to the city. The dog had been abandoned, but was found and cared for by a rescue organization that was offering him for adoption. Red and Tim adopted each other, becoming a nearly inseparable pair.

My family aren’t critter folk. We’ve never had furry pets. But whenever Red was in the house, we didn’t notice his dogginess, just his self. Strong, quiet, and sweet-natured,  Redmond was present when Tim married Emily, when Isla was born, and when the three of them moved into their new home.

One night, Red fell ill. He woke Tim and Emily, who rushed him to the vet. Within hours he was gone. It shocked us all. That was just over a half-year ago.

A few weeks ago we hired Tim to tear down and rebuild our porch. Since he lives an hour’s drive away, he often spends the night. I see him in the morning before I go to work, and in the evening when I come home. He eats with us, and hangs out in the backyard with my husband some evenings. When I pull in or out of the driveway, Tim waves at me. Or I call out to him and we exchange a few words. But, there always seems to be a point where something’s not being said, or some gesture is not being made.

The other night, Tim showered and walked down the stairs. I was sitting in my office, half aware of what I was hearing or waiting to hear. And then I realized… I was listening not only to Tim’s footfalls, but I was anticipating the clacking paw pads that usually followed him. I hadn’t heard the stumbly way Red used to negotiate the stairs, and that absence made its own kind of sound.

All these weeks, I’ve been waiting for Redmond to rise at the end of the driveway give me that one woof of a warning greeting. And I’ve missed Tim’s reassuring hand coming to rest on that magnificent crown, telling his friend that it’s okay.

A nice thing… the indelible presence of an exceptional creature.


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7 Responses to “An Absence”

  1. Geez. I don’t even particularly like dogs, and now I’m missing Red.

  2. Keith Joiner said

    Really sweet post. I also have no furry friends, but at times I long for one. One to fill that absence you mention. Thanks for the post.

  3. Lisa Kern said

    I’ll have to start reading you BEFORE I apply my mascara.

  4. iamsurly said

    What a great name for a beastie.

  5. OwlSaysWho said

    As one with many furry friends, I can relate. That Red made such a deep impression on you speaks to his exceptional being-ness. Such a lovely piece, here.

  6. Dale said

    Not a dog kind of guy, but I wish I’d known Red. Well, actually, now I think I do. Nice touch, here.

  7. Love this. Sitting on the porch with Jeff and Lily, knowing exactly what you mean.

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