Awhile back I wrote about how I was playing some songs for veterans and friends around a campfire in Idaho. We were down by the river at the edge of the ranch, and the night was deepening on the last few hours of a weekend horse camp for veterans.

 

Before I played the last song, ‘The Table,’ I told the story of how I’d written it about a man losing his partner to cancer. I had no idea my own partner, a black Labrador, was already dying of bone cancer there at my feet back when I wrote the song years before.

 

But you know that story already.

 

As the firelight danced across our faces and I played the first few chords of the song, a dog I didn’t really know pushed up to her feet. I’d noticed she kept to herself and was almost always focused solely on her owner, kind of like my old dog used to be. 

 

But she walked around the ring of rocks and over to me, where she lay down at my feet, her heart pulsing against my shins.

 

We all saw it happen.

   

We all felt like something else was going on.

 

That feeling only got stronger as I played the last chord of ‘The Table, when she left my feet to return to her owner’s side, just as the last notes rang out into the night.

I learned later that I'd lost my dog to cancer the same year that campfire dog at my feet was born.

 

I got the news yesterday that she just passed away.

Of cancer.

 

She probably had it while she was there at my feet, as I played that song around the campfire.

Kind of like when I wrote that song, with my own dog and her own silent cancer at my feet.

It's like they were the same dog. Kind of like one soul jumped ship, from one body to the next. 

I don't know. No one really knows about these things. They just believe. Which is usually all that matters, anyway.

But maybe there's really no goodbye. There's just next time.

 

I do know that we all make a choice to either live in a world that is connected, or in a random world of chance events.

 

Sometimes I’m not sure which one I live in.

 

But moments like this are hard to ignore.

 

And I know, no matter what, that the world is a better place with a dog in it.

 

RIP, Alma.

 

And thanks for the reminder.