A Love Song for Maggie May

Kate/ September 12, 2019/ blog, maggie

PREFACE

I’ve had this website for 22 years, and for 16 or so of those years, on and off, I have kept a blog for personal or self-promotional purposes. My most popular blog was written for, and by, my beloved beagle girl, Maggie May. Rather quickly Maggie and her blog, Me, Maggie (The most beautiful beagle to ever sniff the earth) had more followers than my own. As she gained more popularity, so did I, with Beagle People. A few of these people became close friends, and their hounds befriended mine. I like to believe that Maggie has a spirited pack of long-eared pups, all getting their noses into trouble.

Maggie and her Doxie BFF, Otter

Maggie was my much-anticipated 30th birthday gift, another lifetime ago, from people who ended up not being my people. Maggie has, however, remained my one-and-only Soul Dog for 15 years, and my Soul Dog she will always be (thank you, Mizz K, for sharing that term with me). If you know me well, you know that Maggie and I have gone through a whole lot together. Marriage, cross-country relocation, divorce, trauma, relocation, reinvention, relocation, remarriage, relocation… actually, I just counted ten relocations in all. Maggie May stuck by me every step, every mile. No matter how end-of-the-world things felt to me, she remained stubbornly fixed in the present, barking at me to come back there with her whenever I needed reminding.

Maggie and Me, 2016

Living in the present has been a lot harder without my little girl, my BFF by my side. I can’t believe it’s only been 10 weeks since we parted. I knew losing her would be hard when the time came, but I didn’t anticipate how empty I would feel in the aftermath. I’ve been wanting, needing to write about her, but have avoided it, save for some notes scribbled on paper after dreaming about her, or noting “Signs from Maggie” in an app on my phone. It’s not doing me any good—I struggle to concentrate on the work at hand, these thoughts swimming around and around all day.

I hope that by writing about my dear, old, sweet, bossy beagle, I’ll keep my best memories of her fresh, or at least archived for future remembering. I do have her old blog entries, and I will repost them as I go along. But for now, I need to start at the end.

Maggie at Ockehocking Preserve, 2018

MAGGIE, MEMORIALIZED

I was shopping for pet memorial jewelry when I found the perfect bracelet on Etsy. I needed something to remember her by, in a way only she and I would understand. Then I found it.

In the days following Maggie’s euthanasia, I could barely function. I couldn’t drive, or eat, or sleep. Conversation was impossible, so I avoided people. When I eventually left the house on my own, it was to see my therapist. After that intense weeping and grieving session, I dried my face, got into my car, and drove to the small lot in front of the shiny chrome diner across the street for a hot, fresh breakfast. My therapist had advised me to practice self-care, and that meant eating. Despite my anti-social inclinations, I left the solitude of my car and stepped inside.

Mommy/Maggie, June 24, 2019

“Sit anywhere, hun,” the waitress said.

“Ok. Thank you.” I picked a booth by the door and faced the corner. I couldn’t stomach human eye contact, small talk, or cheery people.

“Coffee?”

“Yes, please.”

Old diners serve the best coffee. The quality of the coffee doesn’t really matter—it’s all about the mug. A classic diner mug has a comforting heaviness about it. The sound of a teaspoon tapped on the thick rim—tink tink—means the coffee will be delicious.

I pressed my palms against my coffee cup’s warm curves and zoned out, until the waitress came back and took my order for an egg sandwich with Swiss cheese. As she walked my ticket back to the kitchen, a familiar sequence of minor chords chimed under the static of the cook’s transistor radio. Was that…? Nah, what are the odds of hearing a Cure song in an old place like this?

However far away,

I will always love you.

Maggie howls in the woods, 2017

Really? Lovesong? In a random diner, a block between rural and blue collar Chester County, Pennsylvania, with a dozen contractors’ work trucks parked outside? Is there even a single Philly FM radio station that might play a Cure song these days? Maybe Friday I’m in Love, but that’s about it.

When Lovesong was released in 1989, the only way to hear it on the radio was to sit by a telephone—with a cord—and wait for the “request lines” to open up. Then, you were lucky if you got through. It was best to wait until the night time DJ came on after ten, and by then you’d need to listen to your radio under the covers with the uncomfortable foam headphones from your Walkman plugged in, the volume turned all the way down so you wouldn’t get in trouble for staying up late.

1989 HAIR. That’s me in the middle.

Even if you already owned your requested song on a record or cassette, it was a real thrill to hear your name on the radio, and have everyone listen to your song. Until it played, your fingers rested gently over the “record” and “play” buttons on your AM/FM cassette player, anticipating your request after every commercial break. If you requested Madonna or Def Leppard, you’d hear your song for sure, and quickly. If you requested The Cure, you could pretty much count on them “running out of time” before the show was over. Every. Time.

However long I stay,

I will always love you.

To hear a Disintegration-era Cure song now, thirty years later, crackling through a crappy boom box in an old greasy-spoon diner an hour west of the city in the middle of the day, was not only special, it was supernatural.

Maggie Magnolia, 2016

My dog Maggie knew Lovesong. She had to. I had been google-casting The Cure’s performance of Disintegration at the Sydney Opera House on the TV every day prior to her death for three weeks. Before that, I had been listening to a playlist of “Cure pretties” on repeat, in an attempt to wrap twinkling darkness around my broken heart after the inexplicable, sudden death of my sister’s 11-month-old baby boy, Logan Hugh.

Losing an elderly beagle is incomparable to losing a healthy, growing, thriving infant. I felt guilt in my deepening grief for Maggie. She had lived a great dog life. That girl smelled the mountains, saw the prairies, and peed in the ocean. I’d spent more hours with Maggie than anyone since I was a teenager, living with my parents. Even then, I went to school every day for nine months a year. For all but one year of Maggie’s life, I worked from home. Maggie and I are so fortunate to have spent all that time together, a pack of two.

Logan fell asleep and never woke up two weeks before his first birthday. The unfairness cannot be explained away. A SIDS diagnosis provides no answers, only questions, and a lifetime of grief, where bereaved parents count each day as “one day closer” to seeing their baby again.

Whatever words I say,

I will always love you.

When the vet hospital called and told me the bad news about Maggie’s health, I asked if I could come pick her up and bring her home. I did not want to say goodbye in a crowded, noisy, stainless-steel environment. My husband left work, we brought her home, and spent the next five hours together with Maggie in our living room, basking with her on her bed in the afternoon sunlight. My Mom came, took pictures, and waited for the vet from Lap of Love to arrive. Maggie May enjoyed her favorite treat, boiled chicken, then took one last deep sniff outside, marked “her” favorite spot in our garden, wobbled back inside, and settled into my lap. I told her she was going to the best place ever, with the best grass to roll in, all the smells she could sniff, all the family dogs we missed, and best of all, Logan. I asked her to cover him in puppy licks, and run and play with Logie while they waited for us. And I asked her to visit me. Show me signs if you can, because I know I will need them.

Lovesong on the radio in that diner was her first sign. Maybe Logan helped her find the right station. I love you, Maggie May. I love you, Logan Hugh.

I will always love you.

 


Love For Logan Hugh

Logan will forever be remembered by his Mommy and Daddy as their Logie Bear; their sweet, gentle baby; their happy little guy. Logan’s first name was picked out by his big brother, Grayson, and his middle name was chosen to honor his beloved Grand-dad. Logan was a joyful, healthy, baby boy, just two weeks shy of his first birthday when he left us suddenly and unexpectedly on May 1, 2019.

You can honor Logan by donating to the AGCS Logan Hugh Memorial Fund, which funds annual scholarships for underprivileged children in the Avon Grove School District, where my sister teaches.

Logan’s favorite book was Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle (Author) and Jill McElmurry (Illustrator). You can also show love for Logan Hugh by reading Little Blue Truck to your little one, take a picture, and tag it with #LoveForLoganHugh and #SIDSawareness on social media. Or pass it on by donating a copy of the book to your local library.

About Lap of Love

Lap of Love’s mobile veterinarians focus on veterinary hospice, in home euthanasia, aftercare, and consultations for your terminally ill or elderly pet. Visit LapofLove.com or call (855) 933-5683 to find a mobile veterinarian near you.

Last kisses and wishes, June 24, 2019

Personalized bracelets by Sparrow Lane Jewelry

Lovesong by The Cure 

Smith/Gallup/Thompson/O’Donnell/Williams
Album: Disintegration
Listen/Buy Amazon • Play Music • Spotify • Apple Music

 

About Kate

Kate Garchinsky illustrates and writes children’s books and educational media in her studio in the woodlands near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her debut picture book, The Secret Life of the Red Fox, written by acclaimed wildlife author, Laurence Pringle, received a starred review from School Library Journal. Kate Garchinsky received a grant from the Eckelberry Fellowship at the Academy of Natural Sciences, where she has been researching and illustrating extinction stories about North American birds such as the Passenger Pigeon and the Carolina Parakeet. Prior to creating children’s books, Kate designed lots of fun things like toys, birdbaths and trail maps. She lives with her husband Brian, Julia and Spencer the cats, and her one-eyed beagle, Maggie May. Kate recently signed on to illustrate two more “Secret Life” narrative non-fiction picture books with Boyds Mills Press—The Secret Life the Little Brown Bat (2018) and The Secret Life of the Skunk (2019). While drawing foxes and bats, Kate also began work on Belle’s Journey, a middle-grade non-fiction chapter book by ornithologist and osprey expert, Rob Bierregaard (Charlesbridge 2018). Get to know more about Kate Garchinsky at http://KateGarchinsky.com (aka PenguinArt.com).