The night of the eighteen of March of 2005 I went to bed with my heart full of worry, sadness and the always present regrets. I hardly did sleep at all and when the new day came, it brought along the feared news that my best friend had died.
My best friend - this I repeat because the sound of this phrase is soothing to me, like a rocking motion or a pat in the back and a grip of a shoulder.
My very best friend was an 11 years old Cocker Spaniel named Troilo. He died a few years too soon, before I had the oportunity to help him grow old -I feel cheated out of those years.
My friend Troilo that never left my side - day of night - has left a huge hollow in my life. Throughout 11 years we learned to live in complete communion and without him, a large part of me has gone missing as well.
His absence is so prominent because his presence touched every part of mi life; and each part of my life collapsed a bit when he was removed from it.
Its has been almost a year now...
Half sleep, I still slide my body downwards on the bed before I turn on my side to sit up, in order to step down further away from the head of the bed - least I step on him, that slept always by mi side.
I still turn around carefully when I am at home, because he used to lie down besides me wherever I stood.
I open the door slowly when I come back home, because he was sure to be sleeping against it, wait to receive us.
I panic if I see the garden gate open.
I expect him to follow me when I go from room to room. I turn to disuade him at the top of the stairs, when I am just going to pick up this or that thing downstairs - no need to get tired lazy old boy...
I still expect to see him waiting at the top when I mount the staircase back from my brief errand. Or pushing a door open with his paws - any door, he hated closed doors - just to see where I was, when was I coming.
All of these now pointless habits hurt, because they bring him back with an overpowering sorrow.
I do not eat pears anymore, because I cannot share them with him. He loved pears peeled and sliced with my pocket knife.
I do not go to the store where everyone used to know him, where we went together every day as an excuse for our walks.
I haven't returned to the park, or to the beach. (His park; his beach)
Some things I do also hurt because they tell me of his absence: I put things on the floor - drinks, food - because I finally learn again that no-one is going to try and eat them. I leave the Toilet-bowl lid up. I do not rush to pick up things that fall...
I miss finding all his toys strewn accross the house, five minutes after collecting them all in his basquet. The toys seem to have died as well; they stayed in the basket ever since that night without running away.
I miss his hairy paws. Troilo pawing the door of the cupboard to tell us he wanted food, the door of the garden to tell us he needed to go out, or our knees to ask for undivided attention. Those paws that talked.
Those eyes that talked. Troilo's eyes fixated on the cookie can, on our plates, on the meat over the counter, on a toy below the bed or on the sofa where he couldn't reach. He always knew how to tell us what he needed. He never doubted that we were able to understand.
I miss him in the car, taking possesion of the driver's seat when he was waiting. Sitting as a co-pilot when we were driving. Looking at everything with curiosity, and turning to me as if to talk; a one line monologue that said "I love you" perfectly conveyed by his eyes.
The way Troilo used to look at me - I knew he loved me like no-one else did or ever will. Like only a dog could.
We try, we really do. We try to love them back, and we try to love wife and children and parents and friends... and some of us do a very darn good job of it too. But we are not dogs.