today was supposed to be the day.  monday.  we talked it over on friday.   james confessed through tears that he had been planning it out in his head for a while.  he had been watching her carefully, intently observing her every move.  she hadn't been eating on her own, and having trouble on her walks, losing strength in her back legs.  james didn't want to tell me, or he couldn't bear to, knowing how much grief i have suffered in the last few years.  still, he couldn't keep it to himself any longer, the sorrow was eating him alive.  she seemed ready, he said.  she's tired, he said.  she seems like she is maybe starting to suffer.  i told him i wasn't so sure, it's hard to say, but monday seemed too soon, and we'd just have to take it one day at a time.  i cried a lot that day, and james did too.  i looked at her closely while she was sleeping, and every time she cracked her eyes open, i came over to stroke her soft snout and say hello, girl.  i love you old dog.

when i met james, it was champ that sold me on the whole deal.  a silky brown mexican desert dog with a bitchy reputation to everyone she didn't trust,  she was mean to nearly everyone at first.  too smart, and as far as i'm concerned, a pretty good judge of character. somehow i won her over quickly, we became fast friends.  she so generously let me have her place in bed, in exchange for a new couch plus hand-sewn overstuffed floor pillows, just for her. i always knew that she was the first lady, and gave her due respect, and maybe that's why she liked me.  on occasion, whether camping in the van or on a cold winters night, she'd snuggle in to conserve heat. the three of us would spoon, holding so perfectly still in the sandy sheets, embracing all through the night.  

together, the three of us have walked miles upon miles, along beaches, sidewalks, alleys, and rivers, through forests and valleys. we've driven up and down the I-5 corridor countless times, we've moved four times to four different houses.  we've seen it all together.  we've hardly been separated.  we're a family.

we decided to wait.  phew.  there are the downs, and then, thankfully, there are the ups.   monday just so happened to be an up.  when we see a glimmer of hope, we hold it to our hearts as a tonic, and we hold on.  when we run out of ups, we run out of time.  we're afraid of the inevitable, avoiding the inevitable, because it's hard to imagine a life without.  james and i know the story all to well: when you lose an integral piece of your identity, you realize just how much of the framework of your life relies on your relationships with others, your rituals of friendship.  and what's left when someone goes, well, it's an eerie emptiness that's hard to fill at first.  and yet, the cycle of life and death barrels on, relentless like a semi truck that has lost its brakes, inarguable as the changing seasons.  and love, it lives on.  love lives on and on.

Unable are the loved to die.  For love is immortality.  
~Emily Dickinson


  1. Beautifully written. You've got me crying at work again, sigh... This morning I had all my luggage for my trip tomorrow, and was loading it in my car in stages, Emmy trailing me, tail wagging, teeth chattering. Saying goodbye to her always makes me want to stay.

    I'll be thinking about all three of you and holding you in my heart. I'm happy that she had such a good family. We should all be so well-loved and long-lived. Emily was right.


  2. You have an amazing voice, hon. It makes me cry for all the families that loose such a perfect love. Our animals are so dependent on our care, but really we NEED their love. Love never dies. I still dream about Minie. Putting her down was the hardest decision I made. I moved downstairs, because she couldn't get up without a towel to lift he hind legs, she became blind, and still seemed so loving. Her tail wagged painlessly like she was a puppy. I still struggle with the decision. Do I have the right to play God??? I just couldn't watch her worrying she was in pain. My comfort comes from the understanding she knew she was loved so completely. You know I lost my mom on Easter here. The grief was the the same, the difference is you can't talk about it.
    You have each other for comfort. Memories are the vehicles to navigate through the sorrow.
    You have my love and prayers. I believe that their souls live on. I have received great comfort from the book, "Embraced by the Light". Would love to see you guys. Ashley is off to college, and Shane is growing up fast.
    I love you guys.
    robin reisen