I remember that horrible night when I think I see my sweet baby dog out of the corner of my eye, but really it's just my boots.
I remember his sweet, soft face in the middle of the night when I mistake a pillow for his large, slumbering body.
Rooster remembers him whenever we hear fire crackers, a car back fire, or thunder and often says, "Poor Levi would be miserable right now. I miss that guy..."
And I remember him in a visceral way that knocks the wind out of me: my heart is light as I crack open the front door and expect to see his black, wiggling body and snuffling nose to greet me, but it isn't there. That moment is the most painful, the let down that he isn't there and will never be there again.
I have no desire to get another dog. None. For one, my hands are full with a two year old and my fraying sanity; and two, my heart isn't ready for it. I am not prepared to love a set of four legs again like I did Levi. He was my everything for so long and he so gracefully transitioned to second place once Hollis was born I haven't stopped giving him top billing in my heart yet. He deserves more time there.
This summer, on a hot, still day, I hiked down to the greenbelt with Rooster and Hawk and Levi's ashes. It was an emotional moment for me and one I hadn't even been certain that I wanted others to witness. In the end, I realized that Rooster had known, loved, and lived with Levi for 6 years, had witnessed his decline and death, and therefore deserved to be with me and Levi when I sprinkled his ashes. I'm glad I made that choice.
We hiked to the little swimming hole, now dry as bone, and climbed the cliff with the "No Cliff Diving" sign. The wind gusted, as did my temper, and foiled the more romantic notion of letting the ashes blow in the wind. In the end, Rooster carefully dumped the ashes in a little pile next to a yellow daisy in the limestone and we walked away. Me, eyes filled with tears and a toddler on my back. Rooster, silent and steadfast beside me.
I could never have asked for a better animal to share my life with. He was gentle, sweet, easy going, and his spirit won over everyone he met. He was just that kind of dog. I miss him every day, although a little less with each passing minute. I have pictures of him scattered sparingly throughout the house.
I don't think I could handle many more reminders of him. I almost burst into tears the moment I realized the wedding painting we had our friends fill in was still missing his paw prints.
Levi, sweet baby dog, I love you and miss you and hope you're having a splendid time chasing rabbits in a fire-cracker-free world.
Leaping off a rock after a stick into the icy Frio river in November of '05, which is next to the computer.