The fancy tag was something I'd long wanted to get for Jassie, to replace the $5 heart- or bone-shaped tags that we'd buy for him at PetCo, in the fascinating little engraving machine. The letters would get worn off on those tags, or they'd wear right through and fall off, generally get lost. But I just always held off on the fancy tag, not wanting Joe to think I was wasting money on something silly, waiting for who knows what.
Finally, when we had what we thought was that reprieve, I ordered one up for Mr. Pillowsticks -- reading Toast Hound on the front, his name, my number and a heart on the back.
I was so happy on that day, so relieved and delighted that he'd be with us longer. Buying the tag was a little celebration of more time.
We lost our boy, as you know, the following Wednesday, so fast, for us like being shoved off a cliff, and much, much heartache has ensued. The bone-shaped silver tag on his beloved collar is still shiny and sits in front of the collection of photos of him I arranged in the kitchen, with all of the sweet condolence cards people sent and some beeswax candles poured by some friends. The Kid is wearing an older, worn red heart-shaped tag around his neck.
In the three weeks and two days that have now passed since that awful Wednesday, I've been watching the mailbox and wondering how I'd feel when I saw the tag.
It came today, finally, in a tiny little envelope addressed to JASPER c/o Ariane Trelaun.
Unfortunately, because of how things turned out, sweet sweet Pony Boy Jas will not be wearing this tag. Instead it's already around my neck and I may never take it off.
I do really, really regret that I didn't do this cute thing sooner for him, my little Toast Hound, my breakfast-time companion every day for 13 1/2 years during which he and I shared my toast, not quite equally I admit. What was so important about saving that $30 all that time? Sure seems stupid now.
I also regret that I didn't do something else I thought about for years and ran out of time for: a family portrait of the 4 of us, especially as Jas got older and developed his gray beard and snout -- so distinguished and cute. We were so much a family. Now I see that I have photos of Jasper with one or two of us, but never all three at the same time -- someone had to be holding the camera!
Of course, I regret other things, too -- not spending every moment with him, that I was ever away from him, for stupid work or stupid vacations that now seem so insignificant compared to the great simple joy of being near him. But that's a bit maudlin and unrealistic, don't you think? He had a beautiful life, we loved him madly and he loved us. He was happy to the very end. And we with him.
So, just to say, precious lovee Toast Hound, that I'm wearing your tag with pride and with joy, remembering all our great times together, thousands of slices of toast, whether bagel or french bread or pugliese, all eaten with so much gusto and with big brown eyes filled with love.
Miss you so much.