Friday, July 19, 2013

RAINING ON MY HEART

The rain was pouring down and the wind felt good blowing under the open bedroom window and across my back.  Little Happy’s head lay on the end of my pillow with her nose inches away from mine.  I found humor in that even at this early hour.  Shade was breathing deeply and slowly and I found peace listening to her soft exhales.  Chestnut lay on her back behind me with her head tilted to one side, her mouth open.  

A quick check of the wrist watch indicated it was 4 AM.  I was wide awake.  I carefully lifted myself over Happy, stood up, stretched and rubbed my eyes.  Lightning flashed across the sky and lit up the room for a split second.  A clap of thunder followed immediately.  What would I do in the dark hours of early morning while waiting for the sun to rise?  I quietly dressed, grabbed the keys to the truck and went downstairs to the front door.  I hesitated thinking this is nuts.  I just felt like driving.  The dogs never got up to follow.  That was strange.

The old Ford pushed through the deluge while the windshield wipers barely kept the water clear from my field of view.  My mind was empty of thought or purpose.  The sound of the rain on the truck cab was relaxing and the occasional flash of lightning that lighted the road side for brief instances kept me alert.  What was I doing out here.  Where was I going?  I didn’t remember deciding which direction to travel in or any specific destination to head for.  The roads didn’t even look familiar.  Where was I?  It seemed like I’d been driving for hours when I noticed a road I had turned onto many, many times in the past.  It lead to the old state park where I took all the dogs every evening for seven years.  The gate was shut.  No matter as I would just park on the edge of the road in front of the gate and walk in.  No one would come to open the gate until 7 AM anyway and I would be gone by then.   Now, why would I want to walk into the old park in the pouring rain?  This didn’t make sense, but something was compelling me to do it.  Events came in bits and pieces.  I remember getting out of the truck and shutting the door, but I don’t remember the long walk through the rain to the old mansion ruins.  No matter – it felt right.  I kept walking and found myself on the road that I call “the road to nowhere.”  It is a narrow paved road that disappears into Tellico Lake.  The dogs always picked up the pace when they came to this piece of road.  They knew the cool water of the lake was just yards off to the right side of it.

The rain had slackened and the first light of morning was barely obvious. 
 I decided to climb up the bank to my left and sit at the base of an old, old oak tree to watch the morning materialize.  I could see a portion of the narrow sandy beech that borders the road and the lake beyond through the forest.  The sun arose on the horizon and appeared as half a face peering over the horizon as it climbed ever so slowly above that beautiful line where sky meets water.  I was sitting on tall, wet grass with my back against the tree trunk, soaked through and through, and it didn’t seem to matter.  The first hint of a line with blue and yellow at it’s edges appeared.   Then the colors red and green slowly became apparent and joined alongside the existing colored lines.  The lines stacked upon each other and a high arch formed in the middle.  The farthest end of the vision seemed to disappear into eternity while the closest end stopped, it seemed, directly in front of me where the water met the sand on the beach.

 I caught a movement on the beech where the rainbow appeared to touch.  I rubbed my eyes and it was gone.  I heard what sounded like a deer running up the sandy beech and turn into the woods where the trees were large near the old road.  Why didn’t I bring my camera?  The rainbow alone would have been a treasure to capture with the lens, but to photograph a deer beside this beautiful rainbow would be a once in a life time shot.  Suddenly, the sound of running feet could be heard returning through the thick woods.  This deer was going to  insult me by posing beside the rainbow, knowing that  I can’t capture the image.  Then I saw a streak sort of flow over the trunk of a huge tree that had fallen and was held off the ground by it’s thick, long branches.
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That wasn’t a deer.  The critter effortlessly leaped over another fallen snag and never slowed it’s speed.  Its jump carried it much higher than necessary to clear the fallen logs.  It became obvious I was looking at a dog – a dog golden in color much like my Douglas.
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  It ran out of the woods to the water’s edge and was out of sight.  I followed the sound of it’s feet on the sand as the big dog ran down the beech directly toward the point where the rainbow appeared to touch the earth.  The sound of running feet slowed to a near walk and the silhouette of the big dog appeared from behind the foliage, trotting along the water.  He stopped where the rainbow seemed to touch the earth, and faced me.   I saw nothing but a shadow – an outline of him.  Then he started to walk toward me.  His pace quickened and I could hear him whining and whimpering.  The whining turned to continuous barks as he picked up speed.  He was on a course that would bring him to me.  Could this be?  It could and was.  Douglas!
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I got to my feet and yelled his name – “Douglas!”
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He came closer and closer.  I continually rubbed my eyes to assure I was seeing what I was seeing.
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Happy Laps 4
It was Douglas and he was running as fast as I ever saw him run.
Very Happy
His barking was endless and I could hear the loud, extended whining between barks he would always make when his happiness became euphoric.
He leapt into the air and landed against my chest knocking me to the ground.  I encircled him with my arms and felt the soft hair against my skin, so familiar.  It felt good to squeeze his solid body again.  My hands found each side of his face and I held his head in my hands and kissed him between the eyes while pulling his face against my cheek.    The golden fur just under his ears was warm and fluffy soft.  With a hand on each side of his face, I pushed him back a short distance to drink in his face.. His eyes were wide and bright and his mouth appeared to smile at the back corners of his jaw.  He had the unique ability to do that.  I encircled his neck once again and held him tight to my chest, my tears soaking the top of his head. 

Then suddenly he pulled back.  I struggled to hold him, but he was insistent to back away from me.  He stood staring at my face, eyes full of despair.  His head turned toward the rainbow.  I also looked at it and noticed that the colors were fading.   Douglas once again faced me and stepped toward me, lowered his head and licked my hand.  He then turned and slowly walked toward the band of color.  I yelled his name but he would not acknowledge that he heard me call.  At the edge of the water he stopped, turned and looked back at me, made a whining sound and walked into the colored light.  I watched until the shape of his body was engulfed by the diminishing colored lines.  And the rainbow was gone.

I could hear people talking in the distance, but couldn’t determine what direction the voices came from.  Then I heard, “welcome back.  How do you feel?”
Where was I?  A lady in a white uniform, a nurse, leaned over me and I asked her where I was.  She replied,
“you are in the Morristown Hospital.  Don’t you remember what happened?  You fell off your boat and struck your head on a rock.  It almost killed you.  A fisherman brought you to the dock and you were life- flighted here.  You’ve been in the hospital for three days.  And, don’t worry about your dogs.  They are being taken care of.”
I was tired and my eyes grew heavy.  I wanted to sleep and search for a rainbow to cross that would take me back to – him..
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