Updated: Aug 2, 2021
“ There are stone covered graves lined with roughly cut wooden crosses that say “Razz , a good dog” and “Chumley, church cat, fed by many.” "
Around a sharp corner, as the road winds back down into the Catalina Island village of Avalon, there is a clearing under the trees with a gate across the front. It is a surprise on this land of very few fences and structures that a pet cemetery would be scattered about the hillside, real estate being expensive, scarce or restricted. I stop and jump the gate, standing at the base of the scruffy slope. There are stone covered graves lined with roughly cut wooden crosses that say “Razz , a good dog” and “Chumley, church cat, fed by many.” I had just watched the sun rise up over the Pacific and felt waves of appreciation for being here on this island, excited for the chance to create images with my friends that I hoped would reflect all the positive energy I could feel moving around me from the moment I stepped off the ferry. Moments ago, I had picked up my feet and run for the first time in over a year, watched the sun miraculously create a new day, and felt the full, beautiful weight of the significance. I hoped to find somewhere to chant for a few minutes before making the final descent back into town. I looked around at the empty dog bowls, weather beaten leashes and four legged pink sweaters that marked the resting places of so many tiny island natives. “Here lies Joe’s dog, Noodles,” a blue sign with a white painted cross declared. I wondered what the lives of these animals had been like here, if they rode around on the front seats of golf carts with their people, if they chased the roaming bison or barked at the wild fox that scurry through the brush. In the total silence of this deserted morning, I chanted as I walked the ground, reading and recording every marker I could find, imagining how many times these humble little creatures had warmed the lap of someone who would have otherwise been alone. How the other end of their leash had likely connected them to a hand that shared walks up to the peak where I had just watched the sunrise. I wondered how many tears of laughter had been brushed away over their playfulness, and how many tears of sadness fell when they passed on. I chanted in thankfulness that they were once with us, and to honor them and make sure they were remembered, even if for just another minute, I sang out all their names in prayer and gratitude, loudly enough so they might come running one more time. Bless you, Wade. Duke. Lakuna. Leilani. Dakota. Niner. Chloe. Mario. Luigi. Melika. Creampuff. Noodle. Daisy. Razz. Dragon. Hamzilla. Dottie. Ivy. Charlie. Koko. Noodles. George. Candycane and Booda. Haribol, sweet friends, Haribol. I didn’t know you, but I miss you, too.