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…the secret of the universe…

It’s a new and odd chapter for me today. My puppy is gone now from my world forever, save the memories, the rituals, and all the little lessons about life she taught me, or at least helped reinforce. I am a dog at heart, too, I’ve realized and always have been.

There is, in the refrigerator, a single, uneaten chicken thigh from the batch of 8 I cooked up the other night, solely for her to eat, and after finding it this evening, never knew that something so innocuous could turn me immediately into such a quivering and sentimental mess… I opened the little ziploc baggy, sniffed deeply, then touched it. Then I rubbed the chicken grease well into my hands, then in my hair, remembering her tongue licking my finger tips when I fed the other ones to her by hand…

I knew for many weeks that this day was coming, watched and participated as the rituals changed from long and regular walks to fewer and shorter ones. Chasing the ball changed to hunting the ball buried in makeshift mounds of grass clippings, which soon changed to simply carrying the ball, and eventually to me carrying the ball for her. The walk eventually turned into a flop on the lawn so she could catch her breath. Last night, she turned into a rag doll version of herself. Plopped down by her swimming pool, paws wet from the water she managed to wade through and lap up, she didn’t want to move. I didn’t make her. I cooked dinner as usual, set up a chair near her, and we had our final picnic together. It was perfect. Perhaps, the best memory I’ll ever have of her.

Life changes. While it may slow down and fade in one direction, the rituals change with increasing speed on some other tangent or plane – we adapt, discover something new to do, another way to seize the moment even if for a single evening or moment in time. It is dynamic, and the balance of it all becomes increasingly skewed as you try to make the growing irregularity seem knowable, normal, predictable, trying to sort increasing chaos into some rational order such that it doesn’t eat you alive. There is, aside from the hollow sadness of loss, something beautiful about going through dying with a loved one. Sitting on the lawn, having our quiet little picnic, I notice a small vine maple already turning colors of yellow, purple and orange. Autumn, quietly sneaking in. It all changes so quickly and naturally…

Driving to the vet this morning, I realize the catharsis of simply setting yourself into a state of the next task; gently carrying the dog to the car, driving a familiar route, surrendering to those who know what to do when you don’t. You don’t control or plan – you can’t plan things like this. They happen. You show up and you receive direction from someone who’s been through it. It’s OK to surrender sometimes, to simply float along the tide of life and not try to resist or change it. That’s where grief really flourishes, I think. You sit back and make the most of it – watching people on the ride up, the women with strollers, joggers with their dogs, people scurrying to work – life; it ebbs and flows.

People always classify one another into two types; glass half empty, glass half full, and they always peg me as coming from the camp of the latter. They’re partially right, though not completely. There is, I’ve discovered today after reflection on all of it, something quite different, a whole different option. It’s the little message, the secret of the universe I discovered from my puppy, my darling little Sky, the thing she’d been telling me all these years and could never put words to until today…

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Discussion

2 thoughts on “…the secret of the universe…

  1. Tom, I know, really know, how difficult a time this is for you. “Been there, done that,” twice, as they say – but that doesn’t make this time any easier… Always know that Sky will ALWAYS be with you… Always! My heart is heavy and it hurts for you and your loss…

    Posted by seabreezelouise | August 13, 2011, 4:35 pm

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  1. Pingback: …the things in my glass… « romancing the bone - June 5, 2012

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