Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Letter to Willy Wonka

Dear Willy Wonka,

It's been one year since you passed away. So much has changed. For starters, I finished my thesis and graduated. I moved from the wonderful world of culture that is New York City and returned to the Midwest.

I know that you would have liked to have seen Nana again, but honestly, that's about the only thing this God-forsaken region of the world has to offer.

I miss you every single day.

You were the greatest dog any person could ever have had the hope of knowing. I can't begin to imagine why God was so generous and gracious to me, that the creator of all the universe saw fit to place you in my life. But I am eternally grateful for the short time that we had together.

You taught me so much. I learned how to love myself better, because I was so determined to love you! You taught me how to be open and embrace others just as they are. I learned that sometimes, a smile is the most powerful tool a person possesses, because you brought smiles to SO MANY people's faces. I learned that while true love is unconditional and the power of love is limitless, knowing who you are and establishing the terms of healthy engagement in any relationship is absolutely essential.

You loved people on your own terms. Unapologetically. You were just as happy curled up with a friend as hanging out by yourself--so long long as you got your walk in and somebody gave you a treat.

I know it was largely my doing, because I'm the one who bought the groceries, but I never tired of your extraordinary palette and your willingness to try new foods. I'm pretty sure it was AZ who introduced you to blackberries, and I know you loved them.

You were an ambassador of friendship and joy and love. You brought so many truly wonderful people into my life whom I would likely not have known half as well if you hadn't been the one to demand some kind relationship. You were always so willing to make new friends--so long as their keys didn't jingle.

And you always made sure I took proper care of you, doing whatever was necessary to communicate your needs to me. In taking proper care of you, I was able to take better care of myself.

You made life lighter and sweeter and lovelier by far.

I have another dog, now. Her name is Magdalene. She could never replace you in my heart. She's worked hard to carve her own little Maggie shaped niche, though. She's lovely and sweet, and I'm sure you'd have loved her. She has been teaching me all kinds of things as well--about how we must accept others for precisely who they are, not comparing them in any fashion to those we've known before. We must take others as they come, and love them fully.

I still find myself, at times, asking her why she can't be more like you. I know this is entirely my failing, and in time, I'll be able to separate out who she is from who I wanted her to be. Because she isn't a replacement you, and was never intended to be. She is her own small package of love and light.

She'll be having puppies soon. I wish you could see them. I know, when they get old enough, you'd have taken them to the lot across the way and played if you were here. I know that you would have taught them how to be their best selves. Because that's what you did for everyone who knew you. You showed them how to be their best selves because you were always only your best self. You never kept part of yourself hidden away. You loved and you loved well.

I can't wait to see you in that grassy meadow some day.



  1. Dear Willy Wonka ~~
    I remember when Mary Beth brought you over to my apartment, and you stayed with me for a few weeks; you weren't crazy about trying on the santa suit we were making for you that winter, but you put up with it! And oh, how great you looked when you wore it on your walks! You were a small dog with a huge heart, and you touched everyone who had the good fortune to meet you.

    Watch over your dear Mary Beth, and I thank God that I got to know you a little bit.

    Patti LaRosa

  2. Ah Willzilla,
    I remember both your stages of leggedness. Strangely it seemed that losing a leg gave you more courage. I will never forget our unique relationship, where I pretended to be mean to you, but deep down it was all an act. I think you knew that, and it really stemmed from my fear of breaking you. You were a good little dude, and a good companion to Mary. Miss you my little friend.