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…the picnic…

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When the vet sends you home from a routine check up with a hug, tears and the go ahead to feed your beloved golden retriever as much bacon as she wants, you know that things are not in the realm of normal any more. They know, I realize in hindsight, much more than they let on to or admit. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news. Even the dire moments take time to sink in and digest.

Looking at the X-rays, knowing she’d been slightly off for a few weeks prior, listening to the doctor describe the location of the ‘mass’ that is causing her ‘concern’, showing how her kidneys have been moved far away from their usual position in her tummy by this growth, my mind wanders, simply, to something else. Suddenly, I’m only thinking of the picnic I’m planning for her.

It’s moments like this that I have no regrets about being who I am, exactly the way I am, being such a sentimental and romantic fool, so adamant about finding out about what makes someone or some dog happy. I don’t regret the moments where, at the pinnacle of any party, I suddenly need to withdraw, sit on the fringe and watch. I study things there… Moments like this make me glad that I cook, and that it’s become a part of the structure of my life.

I’m happy that this will not be the first picnic I’ve done for her sake, or mine. Most of all, I’m glad that I know what makes her happiest; and this is it. It’s simple. I know her. I’ve been there with her all along – I’m not learning anything anymore – we’ve explored it all well before… This is solace and a place I find an inner smile, a secret I’m about to share with her that will make her smile, too. It should very well be one of the worst moments of my life, but oddly, it’s one of the happiest… This is totally, completely our moment and place. It’s playing in the grass – eating dinner there – playing with her pink ball, hearing her growl with pride about controlling the ball that she’s sure everyone else on the planet is jealous of…

I am sad, but I have no regrets. Everything that I am now is because of her. Ive seen too many owners of pets, or even parents detached from the children in their stewardship, to know that I’ve never taken a moment of her for granted. I walk now, because of her. She’s taught me about playing, once again, with sticks. There are degrees of them in our world; the thin ‘whippy’ ones that sever nettles like Zorro’s epee – others that are stout and thick and work best for dragging along on the asphalt… She’s taught me the joy of getting stuck in the rain. Taken me on walks far longer than I ever wanted to go on at the beginning. Taught me that once you’re soaked, you can’t get any wetter – eventually you beat the rain by a sort of game of attrition. Mostly, it just doesn’t matter – you do what you need to do, when you want to do it, and life will be happiest. She taught me the fine art of pausing to look around when something smells good, or when it simply catches your attention. These are the things everyone knows as a child, and loses somewhere along the way. Sometimes, you need somebody to remind you how to behave, how to get back to your roots…

I’ve never owned her – she’s never been my possession, even if I’m responsible for her well being. We’ve only ever been two beings sharing mutual experiences together – each with a different perspective, each with something to give each other. I’m thankful that she’s changed who I am for the better, that I’ll never be the person I was before I met her, knew her and frolicked with her. Today, after I walked alone, I placed my sandals on the bed by her nose, let her smell all the places I went, because I want to share it, and let her know I took her with me every step of the way…

It’s the thing about any relationship that comes up at times like this – is it worth it? The pain of letting go of something you cherish? Of feeling so utterly heartbroken, having a routine lost, rituals and traditions that were exclusive to the two of you, suddenly, and simply disappear? Knowing that after all of the fun you’ve had, that it all ends with a hollow sort of sorrow you’ve never wanted to even contemplate? Is it worth it?

Yes, it’s more than worth it. It is, I believe more than ever now, the only point of life. It is everything it means to be alive; to grow into, with and because of another being… When you miss the small things, resist them changing you, you miss everything. If moments like this leave you feeling as if you’ve nothing but regret, and wish for more time to get it all right, or even just say goodbye, then somehow you’ve done it all wrong. To her last day, I’ll still only be saying ‘hello’ to her, all over again, and thinking how thankful I am to share ‘right now’ with her, whatever it is… There is no guarantee of any next moment, or of anything being better than what’s in front of you. We are all terminal cases, after all, from the moment we emerge from the womb…

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “…the picnic…

  1. I love this post – Tom, I am sad for you but am so touched by your blog… It is so true that our pets are not owned; I like to think of them as our four legged partners in life… All my best to you, my thoughts are with you and Sky! Please take all the picnics you can with her!!!!

    Posted by seabreezelouise | June 30, 2011, 1:18 pm
  2. Ted, our Golden is barking at the roofers as I read this. I am wiping a tear away. It does hurt my heart to hear that you are having to say good-bye to your faithful companion. You could not have said anything better. Bacon is the best medicine for man and beast. You know…. bacon bits are the fairy dust of the food community. We send you good thoughts from the state with more pork than people.

    Posted by jerilynn | June 30, 2011, 1:56 pm
  3. Thank you for writing this. It is always better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.

    Posted by Kathy | June 30, 2011, 3:36 pm

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