Reagan left. She was here for a week, shouldering by herself the big task of keeping me company in addition to completing all of the physical activities on my “banned” list, post-surgery. I am barely able to stand up straight from carrying the big sadness of missing her and it’s been 47 minutes. How can something so delightful and precious leave such a gaping wound when out of view?
I have always loved Reagan. Not just because she is my granddaughter. Besides, if you want to get severely technical about it, she is Gordy’s granddaughter — I have her only by association. There wasn’t much going on between us when she was an itty-bitty baby, but as soon as that girl could toddle around and form words, she had it in for me and I gladly cooperated. It helped that life, such as it was then, conspired to allow her to spend regular time with us. It may have also helped that we got her a pony. I didn’t say I played fair.
Boo was maybe five or six when he came to us. His little person had out-grown him and he was ready for a new assignment and I also needed a companion for Filou who was coming home from the training barn, for good. Reagan was not even three.
There’s a lot to learn about being around horses and I tried to school Rae in the rules of safety — approach them gently, offer a hand. She informed me that all of this was not necessary because Boo loved her and, in fact, she was right. She would run into the barn, pink-jacketed arms flailing, waving a carrot and Boo would chortle a welcome, rubbing his face on her. No worries here. That was just one of the things I learned from that kid. Trust your senses more than the rules.
Boo is still with us. Only a year or so after he came, he developed a metabolic disease. There have been a half dozen times we thought we would lose him, but he is a fighter and also very self-preserving and somehow we have always found a way through. I know this can’t go on forever, but each time he and Reagan are together, it feels worth it. He adores her and I feel the beauty of their togetherness as something radiating out and shedding some of its particles on me. As if I could take credit.
Boo isn’t the only creature enamoured with Reagan. All the dogs are — the ones who remember her from before and the new ones, in this case, Maizey. Oh my goodness, especially Maizey. We had to put her in time outs, just to give Rae some reprieve. I can’t say that worked very well or that we tried very hard, but it’s still true. Reagan has the scratch and slobber marks to prove it.
Reagan is fourteen now. Old enough that you can see the fledgling adult in her, young enough to know she is still just a kid. I see Reagan’s mom in her through her mannerisms and gestures, I hear Reagan’s dad in her through her comments and perspectives, but I see me in her when I watch her with animals. She is good and kind and loving and funny and narrative and playful; like me but maybe only on my better days. They drink it up, all of them. Gracie becomes chipper and makes the trip down to the barn almost every day. Molly back-talks while Rae is scooping dog meals, bouncing up and down on her front feet — “go faster, go faster” and Reagan hoots back at her.
Sophie, who is always cautious of everyone, even those of us who live with her, wedges herself at Reagan’s feet.
Marco is protective of her, as is his prerogative; Monroe seeks her approval, and Giada and Maizey pester her incessantly for love and affection.
And there is laughter, lots and lots of laughter which makes the dogs curl their lips back in goofy grins like they had just won the grand prize.
They did. They experienced the beauty of Reagan.
I know I am being sentimental, perhaps overly so, but I figure I am entitled. That’s the beauty of cancer, you know? It makes you see things with laser beam focus, no longer in the wide lenient light of the open sun. What really matters.
What. Really. Matters.
Well, I will tell you this: I could die tomorrow and know that my life was well-lived because I had something to do with the child/human-being that is Reagan. As if I could take much credit for the great beauty that is her. I can, though. I can take just a little bit and that is enough.
I love you, Rae.