The Rocco Chronicles…..Chapter 4

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.Washington Irving



Are dogs psychic??

That is a question I have pondered a bit in the past several months. Of course I am pretty sure the answer is no (I’m not even sure human psychics are legit, let alone dogs), but I’m amused by the idea that Rocco checked out before the turmoil that has plagued 2020 was thrust upon the rest of us.

Procrastination has always been a thing for me, and since I have been dreading this day for awhile it comes as no surprise that I’ve waited until the last minute to do what I’ve always known I needed & wanted to do, which is honor Rocco’s memory on the one year anniversary of his departure from this mortal coil. Dog people refer to it as “crossing the rainbow bridge”, whatever that means.

As odd as it may sound I went to the mall the day Rocco died. My neighbor & I had already made those plans before Rocco took a turn for the worse, and as we left the vet’s office after the pet crematorium had taken him away I made the decision to follow thru. I don’t even remember what we did there or if there was any specific reason why we had decided to go in the first place. What I do recall is seeing my apartment building on the horizon that afternoon as we approached home. Naturally I had openly wept that morning when I held Rocco in my arms as the life left his ailing little body, but I had kept it together at the mall, which I suppose was the whole point. I needed a distraction, if only for a couple of hours. However, as I was driving along and got close to home I had a sudden realization that would shortly be confirmed.

As I’ve gotten older I have learned to embrace stillness and enjoy solitude. It is not unusual for me to turn the television off and just enjoy some peace & quiet. But that day…my God, the silence was deafening. Anyone who has ever spent any time with pugs knows that they are constantly snorting, breathing loudly, and making various other noises that take some getting used to, and I had been living with those charming sounds for 12 years. I was taken aback by just how quiet my humble abode had suddenly become and by the overwhelming loneliness that I felt. Those first few days weren’t much fun.

Life moves on though, right?? There was work, and soon enough the holidays were upon us, then a new year…and then springtime brought a global pandemic. On top of all that I ran into a significant health issue, spending several weeks in the hospital and several more weeks at a “skilled rehab” facility (at which there was very little rehab and not much skill on display, but that’s a whole other story). It’s not that I’ve ever forgotten about Rocco…I just didn’t dwell on the situation all that much.

Having said that, there have been a couple of evenings since I got home in August when Rocco weighed heavily on my heart & mind and the tears flowed once more. I suppose there were multiple factors involved since this year has been such an epic imbroglio, but for some reason on those nights I missed him as bad as I did last October.

I had always thought that when something happened to Rocco I’d want to get another dog in short order, but life events in the past few years changed that train of thought. Despite my disability I have always been mostly healthy. However, that’s not necessarily true anymore. In late 2015 I was in the hospital for a couple of months, but my sister was able to take care of Rocco. Then last summer I was in the hospital for several weeks, and I sincerely believe that led to Rocco’s demise. My sister had moved into a place that didn’t allow pets, so the only thing I could do was leave Rocco in my apartment and have a couple of my neighbors look in on him, feed him, etc. They were with him a couple of times a day for a few minutes, but he was mostly alone. I try to avoid wondering what he must have been thinking, but I know he had to feel alone & abandoned, which makes me sad. This summer I was again in the hospital and a “facility”, and I am grateful that Rocco wasn’t around. As much as I would love to have another furry creature to love on I know it’s not fair to them. A possible workaround was recently suggested to me, and I am going to research it a bit, but for now no more pets in The Bachelor Palace. We’ll see.

At any rate, I just felt like it was important to mark this occasion. I realize that I’m not the first or only human being to lose a pet. I am sure if I was married and had children the loss might not feel quite so profound. As my father says “it is what it is and was what it was”. I am thankful for the 12 years I had with Rocco, and I can’t help but think of what Tom Hanks said in Cast Away: “I know what I have to do now. I’ve got to keep breathing. Because tomorrow, the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring??”.




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