“Well you could always pull a Captain Call,” – Matt LeBlanc, my maid of honor and our best friend said when we told him how upset we were that Basil died in New England.
A place that isn’t home to any of us. As always, that man is a gift to us and I don’t think he realizes it.
I’ve never thought about where I’ll die, because it never mattered to me whether I lived or not. I figure when I die my bones will be where they lay. I’ll be dust to the wind and no one will mourn because they’ll know how free I am. However, with Basil it always mattered. If I could change one thing I would have walked Basil back to Texas, even if it meant walking right through my shoes. Every stone making me wince but my bloody feet would have carried us home no matter what.
“It’s like I told you last night son. The earth is mostly just a boneyard. But pretty in the sunlight, he added,”
Everything went so fast and suddenly. Just a month ago he was still playing, running and being the beagle he always has been. He never stopped wanting to play, but by the end he just couldn’t. I wanted so desperately for him to feel the warmth of the Texas sunset on his face again, to roll around in the hottest and most dangerous grass of America again — where we all felt safe. After all. Basil was a Texas boy just like Jack. I do wonder if bringing him home in time would have changed anything, but realistically his legs would still have begun to drag, so I don’t know that it could’ve helped — but we all loved Texas. So it just might have.
“I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice. . . You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it. If you only come face to face with your own mistakes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful. I face mine every day–that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”
Those who know me intimately know that I am to be cremated with my favorite book, Lonesome Dove. Jack bought Lonesome Dove for me from goodwill telling me “its a classic and you have to read it.” I remember the day we bought it. We’d had double Daves pizza with bacon and pepperoni, rummaged around goodwill and then ended up in Hobby lobby as we often do.
He didn’t tell me it would change my life. That it would shake every bone in my body and be the worst book hang over I have ever experienced in my entire life.
It took me a while to get around to reading it, because my reading list is from here to everywhere; but I started reading it a few months before we made our big move up north, I read it along the way and I finished it in our first months in our new place. Six months it took me. We were making as big a trip as they were in the book. It is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. Just like Gus — Basil’s legs were ultimately the death of him. I didn’t realize that our ending would be somewhat the same, but it fits that Basil was our Gus McCrae. Because of the two I am definitely Woodrow.
Basil was a wonderful reminder that things can be good and life is precious we just have to realize it. Things aren’t always as bad as they seem.
“It ain’t dying I’m talking about, it’s living. I doubt it matters where you die, but it matters where you live.” Spoken by Augustus McCrae.
A memory that I cherish, that I have secretly treasured all these years is from when we lived in bum fuck Egypt Texas, in the little red brick house with snakes in the piping… where frogs in the yard were the size of a finger nail. The army of coyotes that we lived with sang us to sleep every night and where Basil got addicted to meth.
“The stars in Texas could have been taken from Van Gogh’s Starry night. They shine like crystals freckled across a deep velvet sky and are laced in a fluff of cloud. They bring the coyotes to song and lullaby bluejays to sleep. Crickets hum and tweak somewhere in the brush. When I looked up I was surrounded by a circle of what seemed the worlds tallest trees. The moon danced delicately around; being kissed by stars as it swung by. How small I was here. I was so far from anything familiar. Yet, I think I found it. “It.” What many never find in a lifetime, I found by the time I was 20.
I found me, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t find me in Texas.
So here I stand staring at the sky holding his hand: stars rolling on and time passing. Mosquitoes buzzing and bleeding us dry. Texas taught me that freedom does exist you just have to find it: whether it’s riding in the dusty brush or sitting at the bar with two southern gentlemen talking about absolutely nothing. Jack taught me how to find happiness in the darkest corners, how to fight for love and how to make tacos. Now I’m living in a wild and dangerous country, and everything is trying to eat me alive. Its true, Texas made a woman out of me and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
This was taken from a previous piece I wrote about moving to Texas, and this is the memory that I have been visiting. It wounds me but its a place that I can escape to because it was a moment where there was peace, and we had everything ahead of us. We were three. Though Basil is not mentioned, he is in there. You just have to look. In every word. Every breath. Every single letter — he’s in there somewhere. As much apart of the words as the stars above us or the air we breathed. He was at our feet watching the stars just as we were. Watching us. Knowing probably that one day we’d be ok when he wasn’t around. That little comfort didn’t know how big he was. Truly. That boy could carry the world on his shoulders. He is the tank you wanna ride into war, because he will carry you out. Every time. And he’ll never complain. But he’ll be there. Taking every bullet and every piece of shrapnel.
So as our final thank you to you Basil, we’ll carry you home to Texas. Just as Woodrow Call carried Gus McCrea. We made a promise, and though others may find it stupid or too much for “just a dog”, it was a promise made in utter love. I would do it for Jack and I would do it for you. We’ll take you back to where the stars are so big you could pick them. Where we all were so happy, even through our growing pains. Where we were all so young, so stupid and ready to get out and live. That’s where we’ll all go — and we’ll go together. Like always.
How stupid we were to want to get out and live, when we were already dreaming.
“Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.”
“Live through it,” Call said. “That’s all we can do.”
“I don’t want to talk about it and I especially don’t want to write this post. My heart has been pulled with needle made of bone threaded with infected sinew. Every time I try to breathe I want to vomit. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I can’t even drink anything. My eyes haven’t stopped burning and my cheeks look like I’ve been in a fight with a bear. And this time he isn’t here to comfort me. He isn’t here to take my pain away by crawling into my lap and snoring until I calm down. Basil Flynn, who was the greatest and most wonderful beagle on the planet — that ever has and ever will live, passed on the 27th of September around 5.45pm, in the undying love of Jack and I; covered in hugs, kind words and lots of snuggles.
We were the three stubborn musketeers and we will be till the very end takes us all.
The apartment is like lonesome coffin where I’m trapped today. It was weird not to take him for a walk this morning. It’s strange for the apartment to be empty of snoring and tiny paw steps. I’ve never liked being left alone in silences because that’s when the thoughts try to drown me, so you can imagine how I must be feeling today when the only noise is a lonely dripping from the bathroom and my heart breaking. I can hear every single thump getting weaker.
Im sat where basil and I would always sit. I walk the same halls, but without him at my feet following me from room to room. He’s not coughing anymore. He’s legs won’t struggle to carry him anymore. He isn’t with us anymore. And I can’t bare it. It’s a comfort to know he won’t lose his mind, he didn’t get a chance to not be Basil and that he now can run and eat as much as he wants. But for me breathing hurts. It’s a struggle worse than all others. This little ball of stubborn perfection, our spirit animal and little inconvenience is gone. Animals can often be a burden, anyone who tells you different is a liar. They get in the way, but they are so worth every minute of irritation, frustration and anger; every single moment for grief after they’re gone. We’ve all butted heads, of course we have — just as we’ve had ‘growing pains’ as Jack likes to call it. However, Basil was a burden I would happily carry for the rest of my life. No matter how much shit he could sometimes caused us or cost us. Realistically I couldn’t have carried him much further, he got heavier and heavier in my arms — but I would always have found a way.
I need him today. I need him tomorrow. And I will need him everyone moment of every day for the rest of my life because he was so much a part of my being, of our lives. He is. I never wanted to live until I met Jack and Basil. The two greatest and most beautiful loves of my life. Sometimes they annoy the crap out of me, just as I annoy them but we’re were and are made for each other.
I don’t where to go from here. I don’t know how to say goodbye to him. It’s just Jack and I against the world now, and it seems a lot more daunting than it did yesterday morning. My heart can’t fathom that the next years of my life — Basil will be gone. He won’t be waiting for me to come home. He won’t kiss me when i’m crying and he won’t be running in the snow or making old man faces at our baby voices. No more falling asleep on the sofa together watching crappy television. No more judging people as the walk by us on our walks because we hate people. No more. .
Now, it’s just me in this empty apartment desperately waiting for Jack to come home.
With my phone off, my laptop closed and staring into nothing. Tears streaming and pouring from me like sand in a never-ending time glass. My nose is running. I haven’t showered. I smell of sweat from nightmares and I don’t remember when I changed my underwear last.
We stayed with him as long as we possibly could. Till the very end and longer. Our vet said some people like to leave and not be there at all because its hard, or at least leave when they have fallen asleep. Never in this life or any other could I fathom leaving any animal to die alone with strangers. Those who leave — I will never understand you and frankly, I don’t want to. It is utterly unforgivable.
We were always going to be with him to the end. Its the only option. No matter how hard it would be. He deserves that and more for everything he has given us. I would happily have carried him all the way, to wherever ever he was going, myself.
Leaving him there the candle lit room almost killed me, but if they’d tried to take him from me I would’ve have defended him with every bone of my being. The only way — was to walk away. I’d brought his favorite blanket from home, but we were obviously taking it back with us. Im sure the vets went in as soon as we left, but I desperately searched for them so I could see he wouldn’t be alone for long. I looked back and saw him lying there as Jack closed the door behind us. It took every thing I had in my body not to turn around and run to him. Our little Basil just looked like he was asleep, the deepest sleep I’ve ever seen. His face looked a little heavier than normal and his lip drooped slightly. Basil’s eyes were completely closed, which they rarely ever have been. He would usually be staring at you even if he was snoring/asleep.
I listened for his missing heart beat, he was gone but I couldn’t see it. My head rested on his ribs with my hands on his back and his stomach.
“Please breathe. Don’t leave us here without you,” my heart screamed.
“We’ll be right behind you buddy,” I whispered.
He didn’t breathe again.
He was gone.
I still can’t in my mind register that he wasn’t just sleeping. Part of me still believes he’s alive and its terrible, because I don’t know where he is. Where did he go? Why was his nose ice cold already? He can’t be “Was” he is supposed to be with us for so many more years. I never truly believed Basil could die. That little fucker was built like a tank, a very food obsessed cuddly funny little tank.
We went by Wally-World on the way home to grab a shower curtain, beef jerky and dr.pepper and to put our minds on something worse than losing Basil. Walmart is good for something. Helping you realize that things can always be Walmart-worse. I saw a huge bag of peanut butter M&Ms — an old go to. Im depressed and devastated and therefore I am allowed to eat like shit without working it off. So I went on the hunt in the sweet section to find a normal sized bag. I couldn’t find anything smaller and I gave up, ready to give up breathing myself. Ready to have a domestic with myself right there. As I turned I looked from the candy isle through the suitcases, bathmats and lamps. Silently weeping as I watched Basil come running to me, his big ears flapping, a big smile on his face and his legs carrying him like a feather. My eyes really started to sting. I could still run back to the Vet. I can run very fast. Maybe I can catch him before he gets put in a freezer or wherever else. He might still be warm. Warming him up could probably wake him up. As long as he knows it’s me.
As I started losing myself I caught Jack’s eye, there he was walking through the rows of cheap furniture. He’d caught me crying in the candy aisle. He started smiling at me; and as I always do when he walks towards me like some kind of Texan Mr.Darcy, I couldn’t help but smile too.
Thank goodness for Jack.
Written on September 28th 2018.