I drove in late Tuesday night. I found this letter on my back door from one of my neighbors, a little girl.
Dear Mr. Roger,
We have been missing you and Max. How are you? I hope to see you and Max again. I am moving away soon.
Your friend …
I”m pretty sure the letter was not meant for me — rather Max, my lab. I”ve mentioned him over the years in Strummin.” Shortly after he came to live with me, I wrote a column about him.
Max spent a lot of time at my little friend”s house; not only there, but all over the neighborhood. Everybody loved Max and tolerated his mischief just to have him around.
Nobody loved him more than me.
I”m alone most of the time in a big old house. Max was my companion — my friend.
When I”d turn up the hill in the afternoon, I”d bump the horn “a shave and haircut.” Max would come running. Sometimes it would take him five minutes to get home. He”d come in wagging that huge tail (he weighed 120 pounds), put his big paws in my lap, lick my face and we”d tell each other about our day. He really could talk.
A few weeks ago Max came home. His stomach was stretched, and I knew that he”d been away on a food raid. Over the years I”ve spent a lot of time cleaning up messes of something that didn”t agree with his digestive system. I sent him on his way, outside.
That night he didn”t come home. I looked for him and blew the horn most of the next day. Late that afternoon, my cell phone rang; it was a neighbor. Some of Max”s pals in the neighborhood had found him.
It took me to my knees.
He was much too big for me to manage. I called Number One Son, the warrior, to come help. He too took it hard, as did his brother and sister. When he arrived, I offered to take the front, he”d get the back. He wouldn”t have it. Number One cradled Max in his arms and carried him home — one soldier carrying another off the battlefield.
We buried him that evening.
I was driving up Bluecutt Road a few months ago during the rush hour. My little neighbor was standing at the end of her driveway with a sign that read, “Honk if you love you Jesus.” Sitting patiently beside her was my Max, tail wagging with that huge grin on his face … my best memory of him. I like to think that he understood why he was there. I know in my heart that he knew it was the right place to be at the time.
I called the little girl”s mom to tell her the sad news. I asked that she tell my little friend that Max had moved away and in the rush had forgotten to say goodbye.
This one”s going to take some time …
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.
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