he, most definitely, was not planned for. i’d started at city college not long before and was working at a dog rescue slash indoor daycare as an attendant – adding another dog to the house, the furthest thing from my mind.
they’d named him tom at the rescue and all i can recall is that he was suddenly there one day, just kind of lost and searching amongst the the play and tumble of the pack. a folding chair sat off to the side on the fake green turf and from day one, every time i’d sit down for a rest, up he would jump. onto my lap. face to face with me, his paws on my shoulders. so clearly asking me to love him. it wasn’t long before i asked if i could take him home for a weekend sleepover, only the most responsible of intentions on my mind – i’d be helping him get ready for his forever home.
we got home, stuart looking at me quizically.
“it’s just a weekend sleepover, don’t worry.”
as soon as i set him down, he zoomed all over the place. the way dogs do when they know that they’re home.
i lectured myself that monday morning, driving him back, sailing down melrose – “you do not need another dog right now. he’ll find the right family, just chill.”
and when i showed up for work the next day the owner approached me, a look of concern clear across her face, “you must see tom. he’s been so depressed since you brought him back yesterday.” goddammit. okay. that was really all it took.
it would only be a year or so, until i’d set off for berkeley – two cats, stuart & edgar in tow. those years in school just idyllic as fuck – some of the happiest of my life, quite honestly. enveloped in study, my friends all students, too. days spent reading in the sun on memorial glade, stuart & edgar beside me, enraptured by the goings on, whether cal quidditch or squirrel.
they’d be there at those impromptu salons back in l.a., the apartment filled with my friends smoking pot and talking lofty, often playing nintendo.
there’d be there for me, nursing my wounds from various failed love affairs.
they’d be there as i wept, brought to me knees, yet again, by uc berkeley’s latin language program.
they’d be waiting for me anxiously the morning i came home, finally let out jail for public nuisance, blocking a freeway during a protest.
and then it would be edgar.
there for me when i came home that morning without stuart.
there for me as i listened to the voicemail one early morning, delivering the news that my remaining parent had died after walking away from him, finally, finally.
and edgar would be there again, that morning i’d awake from a doze on the couch after work to find my then partner on the floor of our bedroom – dead,
there as we sat in the living room oh, so early that morning, waiting for the coroner to show up, a cop sitting at my desk while msnbc droned on in the background, my eyes averting again and again to the glock on his belt,
there as i tried in vain to deal honorably with my dead partner’s mother – she hell bent, it seemed, to punish, inflicting on me what drove her daughter to drink and to pills.
i thought about all of those pills, just there in the medicine cabinet and later, mysteries stashed in one of her coin purses – cures to my life and that wreckage, an instant clean-up waiting for me on aisle four.
“but i just can’t do that to edgar,” i thought.
and it never crossed my mind again.
it’d be him and me, and the couple of cats, of course – from then on out.
he’d really slowed down this last year. aging from leaping upon and between the furniture, to missing his mark more often than not. aging from wagging his tail at the hummingbirds by the window, to no longer no seeing them. he was still there for me, though, just a month or so ago – the end of a long-term relationship. and i told him as much.
i began, after liz died, after coming out of it, i began to tell him things, things i wanted him to know.
“edgar, you are my goodness.”
“edgar, you are my love and my soul.”
“thank you so much for choosing me, edgar.”
“edgar, you’ve been such a good brother.”
“thank you for saving my life.”
it was something i did, almost every day.
i carried him in my arms, walking just down the street to our vet. telling him one last time all of the things i wanted him to know. and that stuart would be waiting for him on the other side of the bridge.
this is my song for edgar ellington
king of the laundry, prince of cats
the pup who saved my life
2010 – 2022