Press Notebook: Goodbye, Yoda, and may the Force be with you | State and Region
The joy a dog brings into a person’s world and the black hole they leave behind when they leave are equally difficult to measure.
The happiness you feel welcoming a wriggling little ball of fur and the devastation you feel cradling a lifeless shell, both seem as limitless as space.
Both fade, of course, but the length of time between these two life experiences is a determining factor in how quickly. And it’s hard to focus on the memories when the one in the foreground is so sad. Peace seems light years away.
I recently lost my dog Yoda, after nearly two decades by my side (literally quite often, like at the dog park, where he had no idea what he was supposed to do and instead played with the other dogs, he clung to my ankle). The little black Shih-poo has almost reached the age of 18, beyond his life expectancy. And even though I knew he hadn’t been healthy for a while, he was still a happy dog, and it was a shock the morning I couldn’t wake him up. He had been my companion for almost a third of my time on this planet, and it becomes easy to think that such loyal compatriots will never leave.
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But they do. Yoda just chose to stay a little longer than nature would have it. For that, I am truly grateful.
I named all of my dogs after “Star Wars” characters, because I love “Star Wars” and I love dogs. But I misnamed them. Chewie (Chewbacca), Yoda’s Shih-poo brother, had Han Solo’s villainous nature. And Yoda certainly didn’t have the wit and wisdom of his namesake. He should have been a Stormtrooper. His focus was always just a little off. But that was a big part of its charm.
He kind of missed his way in life — especially at the end when he was mostly deaf, blind, and gimpy. But he never failed to meet me at the top of the stairs (he had long since given up trying to navigate them) with a cheerful bark and an ecstatic tail. And he never missed a chance to perch in front of the sofa on his hind legs, front legs curled up in the air, a pleading look in his eyes, whenever I had food on the sofa, because he knew that I was a sucker for this look.
As I learned his ways and quirks, he also got to know mine. He knew when the garage door opened late in the day that Master was home – the best minutes of his day, spent up the stairs in pure bliss. He lay quietly near the entrance to the dining room at each meal, listening to the sound of a fork being placed on an empty plate. His ears perked up and he popped up, knowing I was done eating and it was time for the treat – the second best part of his day.
He lacked the wisdom of the legendary Jedi Master Yoda. But he was still smart in many ways.
Chewie left this world four years ago. I was also thinking of losing Yoda, but he decided to stay with me a bit longer before joining his brother out there in the galaxy. Suka Skywalker, our purebred Siberian husky who we gave an Eskimo first name and a “Star Wars” last name (he’s registered with the American Kennel Club, so he needed both), continues to stay in his domain. But he’ll be 14 in two months, and he’ll soon be gone from this planet too.
There is written therapy. I wrote my father’s obituary not too long ago. Now I’m writing Yoda’s, in a way. I hope my words will do him justice. It had a profound effect on my little part of the universe.
My son reminded me of this quote from Jedi Master Yoda:
“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Don’t mourn them.
Yoda is now part of the Force, along with Chewie. I’ll celebrate that, at least. The Force is all around us, after all.
May the Force be with you, Yoda.
Newsroom Notebook is a periodic column written by members of the Tribune Newsroom that focuses on our community and daily life. Nicholson is editor of the Tribune.