This is the blog post I never hoped to write. It is with tremendous sadness that I must report that Dorian the Green Iguana has passed away. Not only did I never hope to write this, but that I’m composing it late Monday evening, on my birthday no less, makes it all the harder to write. It comes with no relief, with no vaunted salve for the pain in my heart, just utter unmitigated sadness. Any hopes of this being somewhat cathartic ended as soon as I opened this up and wrote the first line.
Friday, I left for Indianapolis with two goals in mind, one to see my parents who are both in managed eldercare facilities, and two see my beloved Colts win on what locals lovingly called Peyton Manning Day. Manning was honored with the revealing of a statute in his visage, having done so much for the team and the community during his nearly 20 year career in Indianapolis. I needed this badly. Under pressure from my position as a professor here in Texas, Dorian’s dire health, my father’s declining mental faculties; it’s been a difficult series of weeks. This was a bright spot for me, a chance to see all my friends at the game and cheer on a the team I’ve loved as a season ticket holder for the past two decades. Though we even got to meet Manning and have our picture taken with him, this weekend is now forever scarred with the loss of my best friend.
Some of you may know that I have a achieved a fractional modicum of fame at the Colts games over the years. For the better part of a decade, I have been featured on the big screen inside both Lucas Oil and the Hoosier Dome head banging to very songs, but most prominently, “Let’s Go (Crazy Train Remix)” by Lil Jon. The Colts’ organization even once featured me in a segment on their television show. It’s merely a performance for me, I get to have fun going crazy, the crowd cheers at the fat guy going crazy, and everyone generally has a good time.
When I left Friday afternoon, Dorian was doing well. He took a bath and peed a little, took his subcutaneous fluids well, and took his medicine very well. The only thing he didn’t do was poop, which he hadn’t done in a matter of days, and he didn’t eat very well. He wasn’t really interested in it and it was hard to get him to eat, though he managed to put some greens down. I left worried, but confident he’d be OK for the weekend while I was away, and when Justine, my petsitter, and I spoke by text on Saturday, Dorian was much the same, though he gave her quite the “side-eye.” We had no indication he was going to die.
The game had just kicked-off mere minutes before I received the text from Justine, a lovely woman who is studying to become a veterinarian and who absolutely adores Dorian. The text said simply,
“Call me asap please”
My heart sunk. I knew it before she said it. Through tears, she informed me that Dorian had passed away overnight. She was very sorry, and asked me what course of action I want to take. I wanted to keep him before taking him to have a necropsy done, but she stated that she’d have to refrigerate him as to avoid decomposition and to slow rigor, guaranteed certainties in the Texas heat. I was adamant about seeing him before he was return to the hospital for the final procedure and his eventual cremation.
When I arrived at home, I was on the phone with my wife Amber. I need her to be with me against the cascade of loneliness I felt. Dorian is the only thing keeping me sane here in Texas. Though I love my job, the courses I teach, and my students, I hate living here in this God-forsaken town, absent of culture and the amenities I’ve grown to love in urban life. He made living here palatable. I opened the door and burst into tears. It was now all too real. I dropped my bags and slowly walked to the fridge and pulled him out. Justine had placed Dorian in kitchen garbage bags, and though I know she was doing her best, the sight of it was too much. I nearly collapsed then and there. “My baby, my poor sweet baby!” I cried out as I rescued him from the cold confines of the fridge. I held him tight and collapsed upon the sofa, wailing in immense grief. It is all-encompassing and unending. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this, and I can barely find the keys through the veil of melancholy. Poor Amber stayed on the line with me as I wept unmercifully; I have no idea how she did it.
Eventually, I cried out that I couldn’t just leave him in the bags, as difficult as it was, I had to see him, and I tore my way through them. There he was, though lifeless, he looked asleep. I hugged him so tight and with such love. I rubbed his face against mine as we often did, and for a second, I felt as if I could simply will him alive. Maybe if I just warmed him up, my heart was big enough to keep us both alive! That would work for sure. But alas, I couldn’t do it. I cried about how I failed as a father. How I let him down. And I how I have lost a piece of me. I will never be whole again.
I laid back on the couch with my deceased iguana and sobbed more than I have ever in my life. I nearly fell asleep holding him, cuddling his body against mine, rubbing his jowls as I had thousands of times before. But I was afraid that the warmth of my body might damage the necropsy, We needed his body to remain cool so the pathologists could find out what happened. So I kissed him one more time, I told him I loved him, and I said goodbye. I carefully placed him in his canvas travel bag and drove him to the hospital holding him against my chest and talking to him the entire way.
And now, we wait for the doctors to discover what happened. I would love to end this post on a happy note, promising that I’ll be OK, that I’ll be just fine after a period of mourning, but I assure you, I will never recover. I will never “get over it.” Truth is, I don’t want to either. I want this pain to remain, to never forget what I have lost, and to never forget the love I had for him. I know that it will always pain me, but it will also sustain me.
Dorian was the best iguana ever.
I love you Dorian.