Midnight, aka Middy, was my best friend. Someone dropped her off at my Grandaddy’s house about nine years ago, my Grandaddy dropped her at my house at sunrise to me and my two kiddos, I dropped her in the back yard to take a pee in the blackness of her first night with us, and I nearly lost her. Couldn’t see her against the night. I looked down and she was already standing right at my side. Blacker than an eternity of midnights, she was. My heart loved her at first puppy breath.
We had to say, “Good girl, Middy Girl” for the last time about a month ago. Two months after the vet told me she had some kind of fucked up cancer, she was gone. I have to take pause after writing that. Our hearts, that loved her so, are broken.
The other day I found a stray Middy hair stuck in my shirt and my whole body winced from the hurt of missing her. Middy hairs, we labeled them. Those black lab Middy hairs floated all over the place, mostly landing in our food at dinner. Just pick it out and keep eating, usually giving the hair floating culprit her fair share of bites, too. Everyone that knew Middy knew her love and loyalty, her intelligence and easiness.
Middy was my sunrise partner. Sometimes, most times, before my feet ever hit the floor, she would be there at my side, with a nudge of her nose, ready to greet the day. “Wanna go catch a sunrise, Middy Girl?”, I’d say. Standing with her tail wagging big, moving her whole back end side to side, her feet impatiently tapping from one to the other, and with her eyes darting to the door and back to me, we would go, and into the truck she’d jump. Always ready.
We’d land at the boat dock just up the road from the house. We’d bounce out of the truck, grab a front row seat on the dock, and wait for the sun to break the horizon. Different times we would see a deer, or a hawk, fish jumping and things like that. Occasionally fishermen, always offering a scratch behind her ears. I don’t know how many mornings we did this, but it turns out it damn sure wasn’t enough.
The morning after we had to say goodbye to Middy and put her body in the ground in our back yard, I woke my daughter, who often liked to catch the sunrises with Middy and I, and asked if she wanted to go catch a Middy sunrise with me. We made our way to the truck, with swollen eyes from all the tears before, sad, and probably with a little dread for it being the first time to gaze at a wide open sky without our best big girl, and we headed to the dock.
Nearly there, we saw deer three different times, which isn’t really that much out of the ordinary because we see deer all the time, but what we witnessed for the rest of that sunrise was extraordinary. I pulled in to park when we saw a Great Blue Heron, my favorite bird, fly out past the dock, then back around to circle the dock, and finally on out across the lake. Tears. I took it as a wink from Middy.
We went on and took our seats on the dock where a duck popped up out of the water next to us. The sun started to cut through the sky. In the distance I heard a hawk cry out. Geese honked as they lined out the scape. Fish splashed out of the lake. A woodpecker drummed out a song. It was all almost too much of an overload to my already sensitive senses, and when I thought it was all so grand, a single doe crept out of the woods across from us and swam her way across the lake. I watched in awe. Gazing out at the lake is something I’ve spent countless hours doing, and I’ve never witnessed that.
The nature all around us, that Middy and I had soaked up so many times before, absolutely showed up that morning for her sunrise. As my friend said, they all showed up for a final salute. It all aches like hell, but I love the thought of that.
Middy walked the woods with me all the time, she stayed quiet and vigilant at times, and others she would take off into a gallop, charging with her head to gain more speed, to land in a soft spot of earth to roll around like that puppy with the breath of new life. She watched the deer by my side, she listened to the owls and coyotes at night. She was always there. By my side.
I don’t know what exactly I believe happens when our bodies tire out and leave this world, but I believe in love. I believe everything is so very intricately, delicately, fiercely, and simply connected. I believe Middy showed up in that sunrise and in all the things that surrounded it. I believe the love in Middy returned to nature, and nature, somehow, gives me my Middy Girl back.