The Burial

by on December 18th, 2010
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I found him wandering in the woods one day as I was walking home from school. He was just a puppy and I was only twelve years old but from the moment we met, it was love at first sight. I was not allowed to have dogs in the house. Ronnie, my stepfather, hated dogs as did my mother so I decided Miss Mable’s old house near the river would be an ideal place to hide him. Miss Mable passed away years ago and her family didn’t want to keep it, so it had been sitting there ever since collecting years of weathered worn charm which was fortunate for me and Beej. To others, it was just an old, good for nothing shack, but to me it was the most beautiful structure I had ever seen and though it’s rough exterior screamed for much needed attention, it still had a good working fireplace and I spent as much time as I could there fixing the old place up using left over paint and lumber Ronnie had taken from his construction jobs; it was a quiet, peaceful place to do my homework or take a nap after school. When Beej came into my life, it made the place feel more inviting. I think Mrs. Miss Mable would have been proud of what we did with the place, I would tell Beej. Though Beej had only lived five years, it had been the longest, most precious five years of my life. Beej was everything I never received from my mother or father or even Ronnie. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to live without him. It took me nearly a full day to dig his grave. I decided to make his eternal home under the old oak tree near the river where we would spend most of everyday caught up in a whirlwind of play.

I picked him up and placed him in the white blanket then curled him close to my heart; my tears fell like heavy raindrops as memories of our years together flooded my unsettled mind. I climbed not so carefully down into the hole, with Beej nestled in the makeshift hammock around my neck, until my feet were planted firmly on the soft earth. The truth is, I wanted to fall into that grave and lie next to him forever. I looked up at the twisted oak above; set against the backdrop of the foreboding sky, it too looked as if it were grieved by the passing of Beej. Its limbs and leaves once a stately sight seemed to slump toward the opening of the grave knowing there would no longer be laughter or playing tag around the thick trunk, there would be no more hide and seek or cold nose rubs beneath the proud branches. I unwrapped my best friend so all I could see was his beautiful face. His eyes in death stared off into eternity and I imagined he was staring at the angels that came to take him to heaven. I sat there for hours, looking down at his body lying over my lap hoping, praying, that life would suddenly appear in a steady rising and falling of rhythmic breathing, but there was nothing; a piece of my heart was gone and the stark reality that there was nothing I could do to breathe life back into him left me an empty vessel.

Gently, I wrapped his head and placed him softly on the cold earth. There, lying down next to him one last time with my arm wrapped around his tiny body, I said a prayer. I prayed that God would tell him how much I loved him and to ask him to wait for me by the pearly gates. With great effort, I pulled myself up using the tree roots as a ladder and crawled my way to the base of the old tree. Night was falling fast and I still had to shovel the mound of dirt into the grave; a grim task I put off for as long as I could. Now with night rapidly falling, I did my best to lift the heavy shovel and began to cover the small, white body lying beneath the blanket below. The forest was my refuge, and until Beej died, I was able to come here and be with him to find solace and comfort. Now all that would remain for me would be noises of the forest, and nobody to share my grief with. Once I was finished, I turned back one last time to say my final goodbye. The old oak would never be the same; I could almost hear it softly crying as the wind rustled through the dying leaves on its branches. Oh how I longed to be in that hole with him, to be nothing, to feel nothing, to know nothing. For me, that would mean everything.

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