I wanted to bury Buster in the backyard, in the garden. Matthew agreed. When I came home that afternoon, he reported he had found the perfect spot. It was under the palm tree, just beyond the outer circle of the patio. I concurred; it was perfect.
Last summer, I was working with my handyman on a project to dig a trench around the house, and I asked Matt to help. At 21 years old, he was reluctant. He didn’t want to get up early. He didn’t want to deal with the roots. He didn’t want to push through and do the job properly. I was chagrined.
So when I asked him to dig a hole for Buster’s grave so we could have a little funeral, I was doubtful, but I left him alone. I hurried to prepare the program before my friend and her daughter arrived for the service. The daughter, Avery, arrived first with a plate of cookies and a pot of flowers. I checked on Matt and saw he was still struggling with the landscape cloth and the thick roots underneath it. Concerned with finishing my own work, however, I again left him alone, just asking him to dig a second hole for the flowers.
Finally, I was ready with my one-page program, a mix of quotes and a sweet poem written by a writing circle friend. My plan was to ask Avery to hold the flowers and Beth to hold the candle; I would hold the ukulele, and Matt would hold Buster. But I worried; would the hole be deep enough? Had Matt properly completed the job?
Checking one last time, I looked into the hole, which was next to a large pile of dirt. It was perfect. Deep, narrow, just the right size, in just the right spot. I was gratified. Asking more of Matthew, I said, “Would you please go get Buster?” Buster had been lying in state in his doggy bed upstairs, and Matthew brought him down, wrapped him in a blue towel, with just his ears sticking out. We proceeded to the backyard, with Matthew in front, gravedigger and pallbearer all at once.
So we lit the candle, sang Amazing Grace, read the poem, and kissed Buster’s ears one final time. We laid Buster in his grave. Then we went inside and left Matthew to finish the job while the candle burned in the soft falling darkness.
Later, I checked on Buster a final time. The candle was still lit and glowing in the dark, and the hole was neatly filled in. I saw that Matt had left a handprint in the soft dirt, his own loving touch.
I could ask no more of him. He had done what I asked him to do, and then, he did more. Matthew dug a hole, and he filled it in, his own particular way. Such is the everyday grace, the amazing grace, of being lost, then found.
In the garden.
In memory of our beloved Buster, February 5, 2002 to October 10, 2018.
I can see you standing
then sitting again.
your spindly ballerina legs
as you seek
a comfortable nook.
I can feel your bony little
cushion (and my heart)
you patter away.
I can hear your paws,
along wood floors
dainty requests for
You precious, jaunty
smiles to the
to keep our perimeters
open to the few true
gentlemen among us.
Member of our writing circle