When my time comes, when death calls, I am going to wander off into the woods on a cool spring afternoon. I will slip away while backs are turned and no one will know which direction I have taken. They will assume that I will be coming back, but I won’t.
When night falls and my place at the table is empty they will realize I am gone and get up from supper to find me. The night will be glorious. Their food will get cold. The moon will be full. The grasses and spring flowers will be in their full extravagant abundance. The bluebonnets will be past their prime, the paint brushes will still be holding their glory. The buttercups and the wild array of yellow and white and purple flowers will be crowding the trails. The dew will be so thick on the yucca plants that they will glow in the flashlight beams.
o one will find me. They will search for my footprints at the edges of the streams, confident I would not cross the waters. They will peer beneath the trees and bushes in hopes of finding me curled up asleep. They will follow paths worn by deer and coyotes wondering if they might be mine. In the dark they will see eyes glowing back at them. They will hear snorts and rustling and maybe smell the hint of a skunk. Occasionally a mosquito will buzz past their ears, but not too often.
As they wander through the night they will share stories and memories and hopes. As the trails dip they will see their breath on the night air. They will be amazed at how quickly the air and the breeze warms as the trail rises. They had never noticed this subtle shift before. One of them will tell a story about temperature shifts in orange groves from a book they read entitled “Oranges” and they will all laugh that one of them read a book titled “Oranges.” They will make promises to each other to walk together under another full moon during the darkest part of the night. They will see things that are not noticeable in the light of the day. Their hearts will be soft towards each other and they will lean on each other when the trail gets rough. And, yes, they will poke at the large fire ant mounds and speak of the loss of horny-toads to the ant invasion.
They won’t find me. Slowly the understanding that I am gone, not lost, will settle over them. They will speak of how old I was and how many things I could no longer do or no longer do with the same vigor with which I embraced them before. Stories of my last weeks, the love and art and orneriness will have them laughing and crying. They will already be missing me even though it has only been a dozen hours since I disappeared. They will be relieved that I had not been incapacitated or in pain. They will speak of my life with pride and tenderness, but without pretense.
They will be relieved that, while confusing, I chose to go out on my own terms. They haven’t given up on finding me yet, but the urgency of the search is gone. They are preparing for the buzzards, watching the sky for clouds and circling carrion. They will not looking forward to finding my half-eaten corpse, but they laugh in their certainty that any vulture feasting on my remains will suffer severe indigestion.
When my time comes it will be a perfect spring day. The mocking birds and the cardinals and the wrens and a lone dove will be calling back and forth. The woodpecker and the owl and the hawk will be gossiping with the turkeys and the road runner about the white haired woman who put out food when it was cold and wired her tea pots and broken stringed instruments into the trees to house their nests. The squirrels and the opossums will lament the fruit that will no longer be tossed into the bushes for their enjoyment and the butterflies will mourn the loss of kombucha mushrooms nailed to trees for their drunken nourishment.
When my time comes the only thing that will matter is that my family knows they were wildly and passionately and wholeheartedly loved. I think I will take a pillow and blanket with me when I head for the woods. I love creature comforts. When I am found, I hope they have brought shovels. They will dig hole and place me, wrapped in my blanket, there to fertilize the wild flowers. I would be good with them tossing a few stones on the top of my grave like we have done with our deceased pets. (I don’t like the idea of being dug up.)
When my time comes I hope I have the strength and good sense to take to the woods, filled with the aroma of Texas wildflowers, and lay down saying goodbye to this world and hello to the next. It will be good to see Lauren and Carolyn and my Grammies.
Our 15 year old corgi, King, disappeared yesterday, the last day of April 2015, while he was in the yard with Peter. Peter was putting on bug spray and when he finished King was gone. King stays close to his family. He is, or was, half blind and partially deaf and had trouble with kidneys and his back legs. Recently he has taken to pacing during the nights. He is dreadfully thin and we coaxed him to eat with spoons full of lard. He sleeps on a great pile of blankets to cushion his old joints. The night before he disappeared he was running through the house like a puppy. Maybe it was a last hoorah. Maybe he has just gotten lost. If he has gone off to die I say is, “Well done good and faithful dog. Well done.” I hope to follow his example.
Post Post Script
KING HAS BEEN FOUND! Twenty-two hours after his misadventure, a bicycle rider found him over three miles away from our house walking around Benbrook Lake. It is a hard trek to the lake from our house. I cannot believe he survived the night. The biker reported him to the gatekeeper for the Army Corp of Engineers property and the gatekeeper called Animal Control who picked him up. Animal Control was so kind. Jennifer helped us. She referred to King as the dog with the bad legs. We are amazed! KING is ALIVE! WELL DONE good and faithful dog. Well done! Don’t do it again!