Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chili Love

'Is your dog nice?' A boy about eight years old is standing in front of Chili. We are sitting at an outdoor table at La Mill Coffee. We have walked here. Downhill. Tough stuff for an old girl like Chili. She is laying down, in the purest sense of the term. Front paws at odd angles in front of her big yellow Lab body. Tongue dangling from her mouth, pulsating with each breath. It's almost as if her tongue is attempting to detach from her throat. Chili's eyes ping-pong between curious ('Is that leash for me?') and sad ('I remember when I could run and jump like Beans').

The little boy, who is wearing a basketball jersey with a white tee shirt underneath, is looking at me. His arm is pointed in Chili's direction. He is happy. He is about to pet a dog as his family breakfasts two tables away, peering over in the direction of the chubby yellow dog who may or may not be nice.

'Yes!' I insist. 'She's very friendly.' And before my mind can edit my heart, 'And she loves to play with little boys.' The boy knelt down and began to pet Chili. She looked up at me, then at him. Her tongue continued to wag.

After a couple minutes the boy looked over at his dad looking at him. He stood up. 'Thank you.' He walked away.

Chili stood up, sniffing the air the boy left in his wake. Her ears perked up. She looked at me. She came over for a snuggle. Maybe a minute passed. A little girl and her mom emerged from inside La Mill.

'Is your dog nice?' Another tiny voice, this time from a girl. Her mother stood by her side. She was wearing a shirt that Jo Ann also has. My interaction with the girl was the same as it had been with the boy a couple minutes earlier. The girl's interaction with Chili was the same as the boy's. Chili soaked up the attention the same way she does with everyone - she glowed from her eyes and leaned into the petting hand strokes.

After a bit, the little girl looked up. 'Thank you' to me. 'Bye bye' to Chili. Mom and daughter walked down the sidewalk, stopping two tables down from us. The little boy and the little girl were brother and sister.

I wanted to walk over and thank them for, well, just being kids with Chili. I wanted to tell them about my little boy. That his name was Pablo. That 13 weeks ago, he and I sat at the very same table they'd breakfasted on. I wanted to thank the parents for allowing their children to bring a ray of light to Chili, and to me.

I did none of that. Instead, I sat in my chair and watched the family as they made plans for their next Sunday stop. Took a sip of my coffee. Let the thoughts settle. Practiced sitting with my feelings.
A sip or two later, a message floated up: the words I wanted to say to the family, are words I need to say to myself, within myself. The sweetness that flowed through me was for me, not meant to be given away and dulled in a social exchange; a gift to help me glide along my way.

A few sips later, high as a kite on French Press-extracted caffeine, a larger message - perhaps a question about a concept I like to believe - wafted its way up to my brain: was it Pablo himself who guided two children to interact with his Papa and his beloved Chili dawg?

9 comments:

Erica said...

Yes.

MKPatrick said...

Yes, Pablo.

Heather said...

I am certain it was.

Much love,Heather and Zoey

Tish said...

Yes!!! :)

Dolly Duplantier said...

Definitely. Jeff, you are such a gifted writer. Thank you for sharing such moving and personal stories with us.

Puanani said...

Lovely. Really lovely. You transported me.

Nancy said...

Do you have any doubt? I do not. It was your beautiful Pablo!

Miss Becky said...

this is a lovely story. I hope so...

Lisa said...

... my heart is addicted to your storytelling because of passages like this...and yes, i believe pablo's spirit was definitely wafting in and around you all. you know it when you know it, right?