The day started while it was still dark, I woke up and found CJ was not with me. I found him on our balcony, looking into the ocean, the pain of losing Buddy, our border collie and his best friend, still fresh and raw. We went back to bed knowing that neither of us would need to carry him out today, as we did for the last month, his old body so weak he could not stand. I decided to go for an early run, to remember the good old days with my 4-legged running partner. It is hot and humid, August in Nassau, and after the run, I took my shoes off and jumped in the ocean in front of our condo to cool off. The sun was out, and the water was still and crystal clear, another beautiful summer day. I swam for about 10 minutes, losing myself in the cool water. Before getting out, I thought of looking for something that would help me remember Buddy…maybe a sand dollar or a seashell. I started walking really slowly, with the water waist high, looking down at the sand. I could see the schools of silver fish, the ones with a black dot on the back, purple ones, and the yellow-black striped ones. Yes, water is so clear where we live that you can basically snorkel without a mask, just by walking slowly around. I kept looking at the sand at the bottom of the ocean trying to find sand dollars… and then the most amazing thing happened. I saw this tiny fish, silver with yellow stripe lengthwise high on his back, that just swam around me. I stopped and stayed still. This fish swam around me, between my legs, around my arms, around my feet, up high around my waist, where I could see him clearly. I walked and he kept swimming around me, between my legs. I walked for 20 minutes back and forth in front of our condo and this tiny fish would not leave me! I tried calling out to CJ but he was inside the apartment and could not hear me. I could not believe this fish, he was just swimming and swimming around me. No other fish would come and stay so close. I did not want to leave the water…finally I said “I got to go back” and he darted off. I was just choked up, I kept thinking… of course Buddy would want to tell me that he will stay close. That he is ‘swimmingly’ fine. I ran up and told CJ—he smiled, sort of amused at the signs I choose to see but happy for anything that will keep my tears at bay.
Later that afternoon, around 2 or 3pm, I took Larisa down to the pool. CJ came later, bringing the paddle board and asked if I wanted to go out. I did, and while paddle boarding saw this amazing manta ray, who allowed me to follow her for a few minutes before darting off at amazing speed. (I’m not making this up—we are living in paradise). Then I returned to shore, and could not let it go… I dragged the paddle board on the beach and went back in the water. Slowly walking, looking down, thinking: what if the tiny fish is around? What if he comes back? i walked again slowly, with the water waist high, calling my fish friend, willing him to come back. I was not in the water for two minutes before I see the same kind of fish, the same size (about inch and half), silver with bright yellow line on top, darting all around me again. Around my back, between my legs, around my arms, coming up waist high where I could see him clearly. It was just surreal. I thought the morning ‘episode’ was a sign…now this was so amazing to be beyond belief. I called out to CJ, who was with Larisa in the pool. He brought her over…and he approached the water. I so wanted him to see this. I was not crazy. This was happening. Then CJ says “I see him”. For five minutes or so, CJ stands at the shore looking at me standing waist high in water, with a tiny fish swimming all around me. I move, and the fish moves with me. A school of similar fish comes around… and he leaves, only to come back within seconds to swim some more around me. Finally, he darts off. I told CJ “This happened now so YOU could see it”.
"This documentary said that after a dog dies his soul is released into the world around us…" — writes Garth Stein in The Art of Racing in The Rain…passages I had just re-read yesterday, looking for comfort.
God, Mother Nature, Buddy’s soul. There are signs. I believe there is a tiny fish out there, on our beach, that put an end to the question of whether it was the right time or not. If Buddy’s spirit could be with us… where else would he be? Where would it mean the most to me?
If you have been to our beach, and all our kids have been recently here… and many of our friends and other family members… I know they will get this… I hope they can close their eyes and see it happening.
I can’t wait to go back out tomorrow. Maybe he won’t be there. I got the message. But I can only hope.