I miss you most on nights like this, when the day died early and the trees have spent their autumnal glory. The kind of night like the one you left me.
Today was a long one on the ranch. We had to mend the fences and pull in the hay before the first snow, and we couldn’t leave until the job was done.
There was just a patch of fiery sun burning through the western treeline by the time I trudged home, and brown leaves swirled around me like an excited pup. When I squared up on the path and started walking toward the cabin, that’s when I saw you.
Sitting there in the window, waiting for me like you used to do. The evening light perfectly outlined the shape of your head, and … I started to cry.
I stumbled on the porch step and smashed my face against the window. I was happy for the pain, because it meant I could see you up close.
Only, it wasn’t you at all.
What I thought were your ears were just two dead leaves plastered against the glass by the wind. And the outline of your jaw was nothing more than the dark lantern that sits on that old wooden table of ours.
All illusion — all except the agony of loss, stabbing through my heart again.
So that’s why I’m here, groveling at your grave.
If I had known our last walk together was the last, I’d have made it longer.
If I had known your last meal was your last, why, I’d have made it steak.
If I had known that last stick you fetched was really the last, I’d have thrown it again.
I miss you, my good boy, and I’m dreadful sorry you’re gone.