Nine years and twenty one days ago, something amazing happened. Whilst a man was nervously preparing to marry the woman of his dreams in 24 hours, he met someone that would utterly change his life. Coming up for the wedding was a kind and generous person, who was bringing the happy couple the most wondrous wedding gift possible. Not gold, not silver, not new china nor a gift card to Bed, Bath & Beyond, this was a gift that was pure magic. Not a trick or illusion, this was real, honest to goodness magic. The man knew that the gift was coming, but had no idea just how much this piece of magic would completely change his life. The day before he was about to embark on a brand new journey, he had the honour and privilege of meeting…
This… This ridiculous looking little animal. With ears too big for his head, fuzzy fur that just reeked of silliness, and a long fluffy tail that wouldn’t stop waggling,the man wasn’t sure if this was a dog or some sort of weird coyote/tribble hybrid. With so much to do to prepare for the wedding, the man had no idea what to make of this ridiculous little creature. All fluff and filled with relentless energy, this little creature was a conundrum to the quiet lifestyle of the man, his wife to be, and their older, way more low key dog. This little puppy was definitely something new. The nice person that brought the most wonderful gift intervened. She happily introduced the man and his wife to be to Jinx. Jinx Puppy. The man didn’t know it at the time, but those were words that were going to become a part of his vocabulary in a profound way, and words that would permanently attach themselves to his heart.
Nine years and twenty one days ago, the man looked into the eyes of Jinx Puppy, and he fell in love. He fell hopelessly, and completely in love with the brown eyes that looked back at him. Even with the glint of puppy mischievousness mirrored there, they were soul piercing eyes that had this extreme gentleness to them. They were filled with energy, mystery, wonder and love. As the man looked into those eyes for the first time, he saw a future of amazing possibilities, and this ridiculous looking puppy was going to be one of the most profound parts of that future. The man, his wife to be, their older somewhat grumpier dog, and this little Jinx were going to be a family. And that was amazing.
The man married his wife to be (who will now be referred to as simply “his wife”), which then resulted in something I like to refer to as “life”. Life is a funny thing. It’s unpredictable, it’s magical, it’s hard, it’s painful, it’s wonderful, it’s terrible, it’s everything and it’s the one real thing we have. They had good times and bad times, but I think if you were to ask the man or his wife, they’d say that the good outweighed the bad. More or less. And as life happened, and the world moved around them, the man would often sit in wonder at Jinx Puppy. This was a dog that would take naps on window ledges, sit on the back of the couch, chew rocks and sticks for fun, and be mystified at things like running water or a potato. Jinx Puppy was such a strange little character, and every day the man found new ways to love that fluffy face just a little bit more. If you were to ask the man what this felt like, how much it meant to have this ridiculous little dog around, or how big a change this made for his heart, the man would likely mumble out an answer and slink out of the room. The man loved his puppy, but has never been a brilliant conversationalist. But the man would smile at these memories, and I think for a man that isn’t the smiliest guy around, that says a lot.
As life happened around them, Jinx Puppy grew up, but remained Jinx Puppy. The man, his wife, and their older, grumpier, bacon lovingier dog built a family with Jinx Puppy. On good days and bad, regardless of where they were, how much they had, what fights they had to fight, and what laughs they managed to laugh, they were a family. From a silly, goofy puppy, Jinx Puppy grew up to be a somewhat silly, goofy adult. His ears no longer looked ridiculously large, his fur was no longer fuzzy beyond belief, and he gained a soulfulness in his eyes that was calming and soothing. The man was sad that he didn’t have that ridiculous fluff ball around, but incredibly, incredibly happy that he had this amazing boy as part of his life. Jinx Puppy grew up, but for this family, he would always be Jinx Puppy.
Time, is a funny thing. It is something that is so wonderfully linear, but appears to change as you get older. If you were to ask the man how much time had passed since he first met Jinx Puppy, he could give you an answer. But he wouldn’t really understand the answer. He would probably tell you that it feels like yesterday in one sentence, and then tell you that it felt like 20 years ago the next. He would probably mention that it was strangely hard to remember the days before Jinx Puppy was around, as he felt as though they had always been together. I don’t think any of us can really explain it, except to say that there are just some loves that are so strong, that they seem to bend the very reality of time itself. Okay, I admit that was a little cheesy, but I think it hammers the point across nicely, and this is my narrative, not yours. Nyah. Suffice it say that those nine years and twenty one days felt both like a lifetime, and a drop in a bucket at the same time. But every day that man would like into those beautiful, soulful eyes of Jinx Puppy, and every day that man fell in love all over again.
It occurs to me now that the middle of the story really is the hard part to write down. The beginning of a story and the end of a story are simple. Fixed points. But there is an awful lot to the middle of a story that just seems hard to tell. So many things happened to the man and his family that I don’t know where to go next, and I don’t want to do this story a disservice by not getting it quite right. I think there’s a lot that needs to be left out right now. It’s not that it isn’t important or that these are stories that shouldn’t be told. Rather it’s trying to put them into any order, or try and make sense of a jumble that is life just seems to be a massive task right now. Rather, let me share one of my favourite stories of this man and his Jinx Puppy:
The man sat in his chair, focussed on the laptop in front of him. Whatever was engrossing him is irrelevant. His attention on the computer, he barely heard the tick-tack of little dog feet on the hardwood floor getting closer to him. But heard them he did, and turn around he did. There, sitting just beside him was Jinx Puppy. Sitting with one of his front paws up in the air, a slight wag to his tail, and sheepish looking eyes that just wanted some attention. The man pushed the computer away and grabbed his puppy and pet that little head as pettingly as he could. The waggle sped up, Jinx Puppy rested his head against the side of the man, and lapped up the pettings. The man then gave Jinx Puppy’s rump a scratch, and smiled in delight as Jinx Puppy did his world renowned “butt scritch dance”. He then gave the man’s leg a quick lick, and went to lay down. Content. The man returned to his computer to continue what he had been doing, only now with a massive smile on his face.
It’s one of my favourite stories simply because it was a story that happened pretty much every day. Jinx Puppy would sheepishly want some loving attention, and the man would feel so much better after giving it to him. There is a special kind of power there. The power to bring light into the day of another creature, great or small, just by being there for them. I’m pretty sure that if you were to ask the man what his favourite story would be, this would definitely be one of them. Loving someone so much, so unconditionally and so completely that just the act of touching them makes your day better. The feel of soft fur on your hand, or the feeling of a hand scritching your soft fur. It’s moments like that, silly, little moments, that you don’t truly appreciate until you know that moments like that are lost.
I mentioned two things that need to come into the light right now. One – That the middle part is hard, but the ending of a story is known. Two – That this was a happy story, but it had a sad ending. This is the cutoff point. If you want just a happy memory of a wonderful puppy and his man, I think you can hopefully walk away with a smile on your face. There aren’t many smiles from here on, I’m afraid…
Cancer. If there is a more vile, disgusting word in the English language, I have yet to meet it. The word itself just catches in the throat. Say it out loud, and you are guaranteed to have people look at you in sympathy. There are many, many things in this world that are worthy of your utter contempt and disdain, and no matter how I reorganize that list, cancer is always at the top. That is how powerful and terrible the word is. Cancer comes in all types. It’s weird to think of there being a “good” cancer, but I guess it’s only in comparison to what is known as the “bad” cancer. And in the realm of “bad cancer”, there is a further category known as “very bad cancer”.
Jinx Puppy got sick. Fast. The man and his wife took the guy to the vet to find out what was wrong. Hoping that it was nothing, they were hit pretty hard as he got worse and worse, and learned that there wasn’t anything to be done. In about a month, Jinx Puppy had gone from his amazingly fun and active self, to a dog that had trouble walking, lost his energy, and looked sad. Out of everything, that was the worst part for the man. Jinx Puppy wasn’t sad. Jinx Puppy was one of the happiest creatures out there. Filled with waggles and love, Jinx Puppy could light up a room. But sick and unwell, a lot of that light had gone. Those beautiful, soulful eyes had something else in them as well. Weariness. Sadness. Pain. If you were to ask the man what the definition of heartbreak was, he would probably tell you that it was looking into the eyes of one you loved, loved more than you thought possible, and seeing things like weariness, sadness and pain. That seeing these things could put a tightness around your heart, and take the breath from your chest. That seeing your boy suffer could make you cry and rage.
The man and his wife made the hardest choice. They made the type of choice that doesn’t come easy, is for the best, and will only be easier to live with after time. There are no magic words, no tricks, no illusions that can get anyone past this. The man lost his doggie soulmate. And he hurts. He hurts so bad that he doesn’t know how to bear it. He is filled with sadness and rage, and wants to hate. If you were to ask him, and I wouldn’t as it’s a little soon, he would tell you that all he wants to do is hate. Hate the world, hate the heavens, hate people, hate everything. He would look you in the eyes and say these things. But he can’t. He can’t hate the world, hate the heavens, hate people, or hate everything. Because Jinx didn’t. Jinx was love. The purest, most simple love. To hate the world would betray that love, and that’s the one thing that the man cannot do. He has his amazing wife. A strong wife that he loves so very much. He has a ridiculous little schnook of a younger dog who has been an amazing part of the family for a few years. And he has the memory of the most wonderful, amazing and loving creature he has ever known. The man hurts and and cries, but he refuses to let that rage and hate take hold. Jinx Puppy wouldn’t like that. One day, I’ll ask the man about Jinx and his stories, and the man will smile wistfully as he tells them. He will remember all the amazing times, and laugh at all of their wacky adventures. He will feel good while he does so. One day. Just not today.
I held him on the floor, his little body snuggled in a blanket. The vet had given him a sedative to make sure he was calm and quiet. Cat and Sophie had just left the room after saying their goodbyes. Alone, I held him and hugged him. I couldn’t think of what to say so I just repeated “I love you. You’re my boy” over and over again. He was pretty out of it, bit I swear I saw his tail waggle once. Or at least I imagined it did. I was holding him when the vet came back into the room.
It was very quick. One second he was there. breathing heavily in my arms, and the next, he wasn’t. The vet left me alone with him, and I continues to pet him and repeated that I loved him, and he was my boy. I wrapped him in the blanket, Jinx loved a good blanket, and picked him up. I wasn’t prepared for how limp he would be, but I cradled him as careful as I could, and hugged my boy for the last time. I put him on the table and pet him. I buried my head into his fur and cried.
I didn’t want to leave that room. While I was there, Jinxy was still there. But it wasn’t real. Jinxy was gone. I looked at him, from every angle, taking in the sight of the boy I had loved so, so much, and left. Cat and Sophie were waiting for me, and we left.
I miss Jinxy with all my heart and all my soul. He was the best guy I have ever known, and he was my boy. All I can think of is wanting to hold him, hug him, pet him and love him. I can’t do some of those anymore, but love him, is something I will always do.
Goodbye Jinx Puppy. You were brilliant. Just brilliant. Thank you so much for being my boy. Thank you. Daddy loves you. Goodbye.