While Rob was alive, none of us had the heart to tell him that Ziggy had died. It became a running joke at Thanksgiving and Christmas and really any other time we all got together. A few years ago, Zach came to visit in L.A. and the three of us were looking at old family photos one afternoon when we came across this classic shot of Rob and Zig.
“How old is Ziggy now? He has to be something like 18, right?” Rob asked. And Zach and I had to bite our lips and not look at each other because otherwise we would’ve both cracked up.
This innocent deception started a bunch of years ago when Ziggy died of old age. He must’ve been 15 or 16, and Caryn didn’t want to tell Rob because she thought he might not be able to handle the sad news. If I remember correctly, Rob was going through some of his own shit at the time, so she just didn’t want to add to his stress and cause him to go off the deep end. When the kids were little and one of our dogs died, we used to tell them that we gave them away to “the lady who takes care of sick dogs,” and kids being kids, they never questioned us because they believed what they wanted to believe.
Whenever I spoke with Zach or Caryn, we always joked about Ziggy being something like 25 years old and we’d say that Rob has to know the truth, he’s not an idiot, but still none of us ever told him. I used to tell my friends Tony and John this story and they thought it was funny and sad and a little sweet how we were treating Rob like a little boy, still trying to shield him from any type of emotional distress. Even though you wouldn’t necessarily know it from outside appearances, Rob was fragile on the inside. More fragile than any of us really knew.
So when Rob died a few weeks ago, Caryn, Zach and I all made the same terrible joke—that he finally found out we had been lying to him all this time about Ziggy.