* * * *
My running buddy, Cody, is gone. He was Kara's dog and we all ran together, with my dog Winn-Dixie, three times a week. On the river trail. At Mud Pond. In the cornfield at the end of our road. We've done it---consistently, religiously, rhythmically---for the last few years or so.
Kara is always the leader. She sets the pace.
Cody is always second in command. His steady gait focuses me, and on dark, winter mornings the white tip of his tail is like a light.
I take up the rear.
(And Winn-Dixie? He runs here and there, and way over there, and then comes on back and does it all again.)
It is this way.
It was this way.
But Cody died.
And so the landscape of my runs has changed.
Cody was this enormous black and white dog. Part border collie and (if you asked Adam, Kara's husband, he would say:) part holstein cow. Smart and sharp, he would stare into my eyes and I felt like he was telling me things--secret dog things, like how it felt to chase Winn-Dixie at top speed in the field by the river on a windy autumn day (the best feeling in the world!), and I felt like he heard me too. There were plenty of nights I lay on the floor by his side and sought his advice on how to handle life (stay present, love a lot, let the rest go.) He also taught my son to laugh. Luc was not even half a year old when he belly laughed for the first time...that deep in the gut, pure joy kind of laugh...and it was Cody, simply Cody's presence, that caused that reaction. Created that joy. Cody had sleep-overs at our house, and he came to my parents' farm in the summers where he waded in the pond to fish for salamanders. He was kind and tolerant. He was wise and thoughtful. He was full up with love.
My littlest daughter, Tavia, said to me this weekend, "Cody is in the ground but his energy is out in the world."
I said yes.
Then she asked, "Will the energy float down to our house? Onto the field? Into the river? Into a new puppy?"
I said yes again. Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
And I realized that not only had the landscape of my runs changed, but the landscape of my house, the field, the river...the landscape of all of us...had changed.
(And maybe, just maybe, there is a new and tiny black and white puppy out there somewhere too.)