Maggie and I, circa 1978
I'm at a writing retreat at the coast. Yay! It's been a long, hard winter into spring, and I am so grateful to be in a beautiful place with kind people and delicious food and space to think and breathe.One of our activities was that we each drew a card that had a universal theme written on it, then were given a short period of time to write a personal story that related to the theme. A couple of mine got pretty grim, because that's where my head is these days, but this one made me happy, so I thought I'd share it here.
Maggie was devoted to me.
When I slept outside on warm summer nights, she would perch at the end of my sleeping bag and watch over me all night. My parents would remark fondly on how many naps she needed the next day, proof of her devotion. (The question remains what a 20 pound Scottish terrier could have done to protect me from the dangers of the night, but I guess she could have at least barked up a storm.)
Occasionally when I would go to a piano lesson or grocery shopping, my parents would get a call from my best friend’s mom. “Can you come get Maggie? She showed up at our door looking for Wendy.”
We walked together to the library, nearly 2 miles away. After the first time, when she howled her boredom and loneliness outside, they suggested I bring her in, and for the next ten or so years she would follow me cheerfully around the stacks. On the rare occasions I got a ride to the library instead, the librarians would chastise me--”Where’s Maggie? How could you leave her at home?”
We sat together in the back seat on family beach trips, her thick claws scraping against my legs, sunburnt in shorts. I’d complain of the way she smelled, because she ALWAYS had to run into the ocean right before we left, which only added to her naturally pungent odor. If I layed down on the floor to read a book, she’d perch herself on my butt.
When I was a sophomore in college, my mom called to let me know she’d died. I cried my heartbreak, and my worried roommate asked me what was wrong. I told her my dog died, and she said, “Oh.” She was a nice girl, but she’d never had pets, so she didn’t get it.
She didn’t know that I was devoted to Maggie.