My baby girl Gracie went home to God tonight. Our warrior princess. She’s going into the ground tomorrow, under the pepper tree with my father and brother’s tears and boot treads. They’re going to dig into that unfertile clay soil that even grass can barely grow in and they’re going to cry while they do that most manly of work, digging a grave.
Her eyes are haunting me tonight with the soulfulness that made us respect her, the eyes that had my dad and I talking about souls tonight. Sometimes when my dad and I talk we have minutes of long silence where just being on the phone with each other is comforting enough. But there are words of truth from him tonight too about all kinds of things that remind me how much I love my dad.
I can’t believe that she’s gone. I don’t understand that she went in to the vet today with her beautiful, otherwise healthy, strong body, her beautiful fur, her soulful eyes, and that a cold slowly hardening body now lies on the concrete in the garage near the laundry drying rack and the work bench where tools go to collect dust.
I will say that this modern world is strange to me, that keeping people alive on ventilators for 20 years or continuing to resuscitate an elderly person who is ready to pass is the height of our immature avoidance of death in this culture and yet tonight I find myself asking with a mix of desperation and defeat: isn’t there anything we can do to keep her alive for longer? Yes. But, one way or another this dog is dying in the next 3 months and in this situation it would not be uncalled for to put her down today. Put her down? It seems so awful, how could we choose to let her go? How could we choose to put something in her body that would make her precious little heart stop beating? How? How could we not go to the ends of the earth to make her just live? Our beautiful sweet one…. here I sit mired in the muck of my often contradictory and illogical humanness. Yes death comes, but does it have to come tonight for her? Please say no…
Somewhere in me I think I understand this… but for now I’m confounded and aching in my heart again with loss and denial.
Princess how is it we’ll never cuddle again… and that I’ll never see your back legs flying over the front fence escaping into the freedom of the neighborhood when someone left the front door open a little too long, that I’ll never catch one of your aloof glances before you saunter off upstairs to dream of killing rodents?
And where did you go?
Under the pepper tree next to where Rudy’s mound of earth has been slowly becoming indiscernible. This losing that I’ve been doing, all this loss, these deaths-with each death this year, I find the mundane becoming more precious, all of what fills our lives when we aren’t busy thinking about big stuff. The mistakes, the idiosyncrasies, the habits-as each occur to me I see in a moment-
all of what we think is so important, all of what we spend so much time thinking about and working for, it all means nothing and yet it all means everything because it’s all expression of our humanness as we play with these physical bodies which is what we’re here to do…such insignificant things become these love notes from life, these reminders that it’s all in our heads, it’s all just a movie that we’re getting to play in, and I remember when these shoes were my favorite shoes, I remember when you were my best friend, I remember when I thought I would do that for a living, I remember when I thought I was this person, I remember when we drove under the moonlight not talking and just listening to it all, I remember when you were a puppy, I remember when you hid under the deck because the fourth of July fireworks were loud and you got scared, I remember when I last saw you, I remember saying goodbye to you before I left because I love you, so so much. I’ll remember these tears and I’ll remember the chapter in our lives that was filled with you. Every thing great and small is reduced to a pinprick of light and everything we know is there, always and never, nothing and everything, it matters and it doesn’t, and at the end of it all in the great mystery I come to rest…finally… in love again. My aching, passionate and beautiful home.
My chest feels heavy and I’m tired. I want to be alone and I want to collapse in a loved ones arms and sleep for 14 hours. I’m not hungry.
Death is happening all of the time and every time you see anyone or anything it may be the last. So be courageous, be loving, be fierce, be direct, be ruthless and for the love of god enjoy it. Enjoy the soulful eyes, enjoy the nuzzles, enjoy the bad behavior, enjoy your life, and say so. Say it to people. Let everyone and everything know what you feel when you feel it and never let an opportunity to love someone or something well go by.