As many of you might already know, Mary’s beloved Charles died on Friday.
I knew Charles through Mary’s writing, emails and facebook/twitter updates, and also through three visits to their home. My very first memory of Charles is of him rushing us at the door when we came in. Excited, loving, Charles was a presence, and my heart breaks over and over to think of him being gone, so suddenly. My heart breaks for him, for his life cut so short, and for his family who miss him so painfully, and for all of the many friends he made over the years, who feel his loss.
Through just three long-weekend visits, I have so many memories. Many of them, especially from the first visit, are of Charles running. Charles and Violet running together.
Tearing through the beaches, running with joyful exuberance around a baseball field…
…rushing down the hall for treats or a greeting. Of course they are greyhounds, so many of the memories are also of them lounging bonelessly, as greyhounds do with such expertise.
It’s hard to imagine Mary and Dave’s home without there being a Charles there to greet everyone. The hole they feel in their life is huge. Anyone who has experienced loss understands.
I’ve shed many tears this weekend, looking over old pictures, reading Mary and Dave’s words as they struggle to deal with the loss. Hearing, as expected, that Violet’s blood sugar shows the evidence of Violet’s distress, of her grief.
In time the memories trigger more joy than pain, but it’s a painful process, and a long one. For now, there are just tears.
But I didn’t want this to be all about heartbreak and tears. I wanted it to be about the joy that Charles brought to those around him.
When I’d go on walks with Mary and Charles and Violet, we’d often be stopped by the many people in their community who knew and loved Charles. He loved them right back. He’d cross the street to lean on their leg. Of course it was his family he loved best.
My memories aren’t really of Charles alone. It’s of Mary calling “where’s my boyfriend?” and then “Charlesez!” when he’d come trotting to see her. It’s of Charles and Violet getting so excited to get in the car, even if it was just so we could get groceries.
It’s of Dave carving Charles’ name into the sand at the beach.
It’s of a friend of Mary’s coming to visit whenever she could – not, Mary insisted, to see Mary and Dave, but to see Charles and Violet.
I feel like there is so much of Charles to share, but few words that can paint the picture I have in my memories. All I have are a bunch of photographs, a collection of pixels, which I smile at through my tears.
He left too soon, but he will live on in our hearts and our memories. Love you Charles.