Mickey under the fig tree

We just finished burying Mickey’s ashes under our fig tree. I’m glad we’ve come full circle. It’s been nearly three weeks since we lost him and I couldn’t possibly go another week without finishing things.

Mickey loved the fig tree. Well, he loved the figs. During the summer and early fall, he became obsessed with the fig tree. He’d wait patiently by the back door hoping that someone would notice him and carry him downstairs to the backyard. We used to think his fig love was a phase, something cute to watch. He’d race outside and start smelling figs that had fallen on the ground. Then he’d carry the perfect one back to a corner of the lawn, his chest puffed out, and almost ceremoniously, eat the fig. And then he’d go back and perform the ritual. He would eat until we took him inside. If left to his own devices, he’d eat figs until he popped or turned green, or both. And don’t get me started about the choke cherry tree.

He became such a fig hog that we’d have to first go outside, clean up all the downed figs, let him out, and then give him a hand-picked fresh fig. Talk about spoiled. During the day, when we were home, and left our bedroom window open, he’d plunk himself down on Shelly’s pillow and gaze out at the fig tree. Was he counting the figs on the ground, those still on the tree, or silently cursing the many birds that got to the figs before him? He’d sit there and sniff and smell, and then look at us with his brown eyes, begging us to take him to his beloved tree.

So, that’s now where he rests. Among his figs.

Our life now has a big hole in it. We miss his talking, crying, spinning 360 degrees in the air, chasing his tail, chasing his sister, play fighting, leaping off our bed, racing around the house, hanging out on the couch, leg hanging over the edge, watching the world go by. His insistence that 9pm was the exact time he needed to go out on his nightly before bed walk. Who cares if we were in the middle of a movie or TV show. He’d cry and throw himself onto our chests, daring us to ignore him. Padding back and forth on the couch, he’d cry at each of us until we agreed.

We miss him begging for food, delighting in romaine lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and anything that fell on the floor. We miss him greeting us at the front door, hopping with delight. We miss him shaking his cloth toys, the legless bunny, the green bear, hollowed out shells of toys. We miss him sauntering around with nylabones and throwing them into the air. He actually threw a lot of his toys into the air … and caught them. We’ll miss him playing kitchen soccer with himself and batting his rubber balls back and forth.

We miss the way he snuggled into bed with us, keeping us warm through the night. His bed-hogging and desire to have breakfast and get up and start the day around 6am even on weekends, however, are not missed.

We miss his ability to coax Frances to eat dinner every night. He’d stare at her, beg, clean up after her, and generally made getting her to eat that much easier.

We’ll miss the way he’d love to ride shotgun on roadtrips. He’d be on alert for nearly an entire six-hour cruise down Interstate 5, jonesing to pee at every pit stop, making his mark, crying as we drove up to Shelly’s mom’s house in LA, running gleefully through her house and into the backyard.

And, like this morning, we miss taking him on walks, or rather him taking us on walks, walking purposefully throughout the neighborhood, knowing when it was the Saturday walk, the evening walk, the regular weekday morning walk.

Anyway, that’s that. Mickey is now a wonderful (and still painful) memory. He’s set the bar pretty high for our future dog children.

Enjoy the fig tree, mister.

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