Wednesday, October 14, 2009

In Loving Memory of Marley

This past Sunday was my cuddly hero of a big floppy puppy's last day in this world. After 12 wonderful years on Earth, where will he go? I was taught, as I believe many of us 80's kids were taught, that all dogs go to heaven. Marley's version of heaven most likely involves his favorite activities: eating, exploring, snuggling, and sleeping. I must say, my version of heaven isn't so dissimilar from Marley's. Except that in Marley's heaven, people play maracas filled with roasted almonds, everything tastes like peanut butter and there are no pointed surfaces. Now, I don't lose it with excitement at the sound of almond hitting almond, but a few falcon butlers shaking some almond-filled maracas would certainly tickle my heavenly fancy. Plus, everyone who knows me knows of my sharp-objects-pointed-toward-my-eyeballs fear. And who doesn't like peanut butter? (Except for those with peanut allergies.) (Note the foreshadowing.) (And the parentheses.)

Fall has proven to be devastating so far, and the trees have hardly begun to shake their knees. Now, the falling leaves will only bring new meaning to losing Marley.

For a college film class, I watched a time-lapsed disintegration of a dog into the surrounding woods. The filmmaker described this act as an expression of love. At the time, I was just happy that I wasn't in the other film class that watched an extensive human autopsy, so I could kind of understand the filmmaker's desire to document his dog's return to the earth. Our act of love will be to scatter Marley's ashes with those of his loyal brother, when his time comes, on their favorite beach. (Not the one we walked them on, but the one they used to run away to, of course.)

I once drove down to a snooty country club to retrieve Marley, who'd deviously escaped with his partner in crime, Bosco. Two tennis pros hit balls across the net as Marley jumped up and intercepted. A blue-haired lady squawked, "This is my private lesson!" but they were too enamored with their silly intruder to care. Quite the charmer.

On Sunday night, I returned to the city, my eyelids exhausted by tears. Or so I thought. I got stung by one of my bees that sad day, smack dab in the middle of my forehead...which would be no biggie if I did not wake up on Monday looking like Mike Tyson's girlfriend (a term coined by Frank).

When a bee stings you, she pulls back but her stinger is barbed (!) (also, will she ever evolve?) so that the pointy poison sack detaches from her body while the stinger pumps away. Until, that is, you scrape it out with your fingernail. I did this immediately and still ended up with these horrific results:

The last time I was stung by a bee, I spent 24 hours feeling wretched in bed. I believe I have been in denial for quite some time now. I am allergic to bees.

The author of Fuzzybuzzness, allergic to bees! Such a tragedy.

2010 will be the year of the bee suit. Until then, I'll leave my little buzzers alone. Drone bodies litter the ground, and I have no desire to film their decay. Marley has transformed from a tangible being to an intangible one. 2009 winds down slowly.

Some people say photographs alter the memory to record only those specific instances. I disagree. Like the filmmaker, my photographs are an act of love, a celebration of Marley's joyful existence. They confirm my memories, rather than shape them.

When Marley got sick, I began to heartbrokenly mourn his impending loss immediately. My sister Eliza, wise beyond her 25 years, reminded me of what I wrote a few months ago:

Love the furry black poodle with the crooked teeth who wanted nothing more than to give you his paw.


  1. beautifully written Cara..very touching. I'm so sorry for your loss he was a beautiful dog. xoxo

  2. That's wonderful c-note. I'm holding back the tears while sitting in class. and when did you take that picture of me sleeping?!

  3. Such a handsome boy. The second picture makes me what to hold his face. Miss him so much. Thanks for writing so beautifully about him Cara.

  4. Oh he is handsome devil. I always describe Bosco and Marley as humans to my friends and family. He was a very special friend and one -of-a kind mastermind. I remember when Eliza didn't want to tell me when the two dogs ate a picture of us that was inside a very tough and uneatable frame. She thought I would be mad, and I was just amazed at their ability to eat the whole thing!

  5. cara, eliza, dana and rest of the Chard clan....

    I am so sorry to hear about marley. He and bosco were/are the first poodles who I ever really met and liked and they set a high standard for the rest of their breed. Even now, I can still laugh to myself thinking of the boys and all their hilarious antics. Never have I met 2 dogs with such personality, and such patience for the fashion shows, photo shoots and countless other funny things you girls subjected them too over the years....crooked teeth or not,marley did it with a smile and it was clear he was a loving and well loved member of the family. From the first time I met them prancing around in Burlington, to the memory of him spooning bosco on your basement couch, marley will stand out forever as a "top dog" in my book. I am so sorry for your loss....great tribute cara

  6. Oh Cara, I'm so so sorry. I just read this and it broke my heart. Let me know if there's anything I can do... seriously. I'll be out in a second if you need a pal to help around the house, get your groceries, all the stuff that's suddenly so hard to do when your life gets turned upside down with a loss like this. Anyway, I'm sending you my love.