there are the things that were automatic. like how we would check the square cutout of a cat door to see if her little brown snout was poking through the curtain, asking for a walk. or how we would tiptoe quiet as mice so as not to disrupt her peaceful slumber. and how we were always in a hurry to get home from wherever, because she needed our attention. or how we would fill our grocery cart with great quantities of organic meat mostly for her, a little for ourselves. and as she got older, how we'd check the floor or bed to see if she'd had an accident, often camouflaged by the busy patterns of our paisley rug. automatic. those automatics, i'm finding, still resonate even though she's gone. we were doting parents, loving parents, bordering on obsessive parents. yes, i still look straight for her bed every time i walk in the room, and i still turn on her heated blanket. i still check my shoes to make sure i'm not tracking around dog doo, and i still peek up from my bed to get a glimpse of her beautiful soft snow-grey face closed eyes sleeping. because after a while, having our dog was so automatic, the stresses and the joys and everything in between. a labor of love. truly a labor. three days ago, it was a constant presence. and now, it's time to untrain myself. today, in the earliest morning, james chopped wood loudly in the room, stomped his feet around, and did a handstand, just because he could. things are different now.
so far we're finding that leaving the house is the best remedy for the new quietude. out there in the busy and colorful world full of cars and stores, distracted from our tiny fortress, life begins to feel new, like a clean slate. in some ways, leaving the house is a chance at freedom that we've never had before. just three days ago, having our dog was our responsibility, perpetually. nobody was going to do that work for us. as she got older, and things started to go, it was a lot of work, tons of work, it became very stressful, an emotional roller-coaster that was almost unmanageable at times. now, without that worry, we're different people. i guess the worry is just another thing we have to unlearn. but then, coming home from an adventure, it's lonely and quiet all over again, no sad golden eyes gazing into mine, no brown wet snout to gingerly nudge my leg and say "hey, here i am." suddenly, it's all so different.