Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Saddest News

This is the content of a Facebook post I made today: if you have already seen it, please pardon the repetition. I want to make sure that everyone whom Bergman touched has the opportunity to know he has passed away and to miss him.

To those friends who haven't heard, Bergman was diagnosed with liver cancer last Wednesday; he hadn't been feeling great for a while, and it is as if the diagnosis gave him permission to let go: we had to say goodbye to him, yesterday.
He was known by many names: World's Greatest Dog, World's Smartest Dog, Mr. Handsome, SeƱor Poopypants, Mr. Dog, Dogg Snoopy Snoop [street name], "B", Mr. B, Smartybuckets, Hey, You!, King of the Hill, Master of the Universe, Harasser of Squirrels, Scourge of the Crows, Digger of Holes, Sniffer of Posts, Wary of Small Children, Lover of the Rest, Poop Dog, The Slowest Walker, Mr. Busy... and many more. He responded to/ ignored all these, depending on the circumstances and his mood.
To me, he was my greatest companion... the first face I saw every day loved me unequivocally and also made sure I got down to business. Bergman loved a routine; he had many. If you were charged with looking after him at any time or spent a lot of time in his company, you know this: he had a way of establishing a pattern of activity around himself that worked both for him and for his people... he wasn't selfish, though; Bergman was oddly generous with his affection, time, intelligence, and patience. I say "oddly", because he was a dog; it is only on reflection that we can see how truly fine a dog he was, because he performed his simple magic for us every day in ways that made him seem natural, when he was, in fact, something else.
Bergman came into my life during a particularly bumpy period and stayed there when things got bumpier. He saw me through to a much healthier, happier place, and I just hope that he realized my gratitude. I ended up putting a lot of emotional weight on his little back; he carried it and asked for more. I love Bergman and feel an ache now that he is gone.
I know that Bergman touched many lives: our neighbourhood dogs and people; the College of New Caledonia; the Cinema CNC crowd; folks just out and about. He has friends who will miss him and I know you share our loss, particularly the staff at the downtown Post Office [where we went every day... yes, there were snacks], the staff at The Northern Hardware [more snacks], the folks at Books and Company [yes, snacks]. Bergman walked picket lines in support of Postal Workers, College Staff, UNBC Faculty, Teachers, Health Care Workers... he was truly the People's Dog.
I'd like to thank all the dog-friendly businesses and services [known and unknown to them] that we have visited... I've named some and will miss many, but Homework and Dandy-Lines have been constants over the years. As well, the staff at the Sylvia Hotel, Restaurant and Lounge have been great hosts and have showered Mr. B with all the affection he could handle. If there is a dog heaven, it looks a lot like the Sylvia... full of friends, snacks, a selection of other dogs, a beautiful outdoors, a lovely indoors [including a great carpet for scratching one's back] and plenty of routine.
Bergman loved Prince George and had many special ideas about what constituted a good walk... maybe a little digging, maybe a little chasing, sometimes a swim in the Nechako [he was an enthusiastic if rather crappy swimmer], tons of sniffing and inspecting. He would like you to know that if I hadn't distracted him at a crucial moment he WOULD HAVE CAUGHT THAT SQUIRREL THAT TIME AT COTTONWOOD PARK. I have a feeling this is a scenario that played out in the dreams he often had, when he would run and bark with his eyes closed.
Nothing but time will heal the loss that I am feeling. I type very self-centredly, but know that Melinda shares the pain and the above sentiments. Bergman had many close friends: Allison, Pierre, Ouella, Noe, Madeleine, Bruce, George, Anne, Sophie, William, David, Wanda, Lola, Mollie, Marta, Inban, Peter, Dawn, Tracy, Kieth, Nieve, Andrea, Ken, Oreo, Val, Bev, Kathy, Fran, Zoe, Chad, Azriel, Kenny, Calista, Claudio, Robyn, Adrian, Theresa, Andreas, Bob, Dave, Audrey, Gina, Winston, Dono, Caillou, Amos, Mark, Doug, Bernie, Mileen, Tai Jee, Shannon, Rob.... and many, many more. I am losing it a bit, so if I missed you, you know who you are [I regret even starting to type this group... it seems impossible]. This is an extremely long post, but seems necessary under the circumstances... you need to know why the sun refuses to come out, why the moon will seem a little duller for a while, why a pall seems to shroud us... at least this is the world as I experience it.
I leave the last word to W.H. Auden who sums up the reasonable unreasonableness of this situation: [and I like that he gives a prominent mention of "dog"]

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone
or, Funeral Blues, by W. H. Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

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