Day of Rest

happydexterI can’t help but think a lot about Dexter right now. Four years ago at the beach he had his first symptoms of the cancer that would eventually take him. The quilt in the second bedroom here still has the tiniest stain from that first nose bleed. It’s faded to gray, but I still recognize it.

Tomorrow is also the anniversary of his death, three years ago. One of the reasons we got Ringo Blue is because we guessed that Dexter was part German Shepherd, part Blue Heeler. Having been surprised by Sam’s DNA test results, I realize now that Dexter may have been something entirely different than we’d guessed, but I can’t help but see Dexter when I look at Ringo — his sense of humor, his athleticism and grace, his endless energy reserve, his smile — and I’m so happy to have the reminder.

Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
go,
to let it go.

Mary Oliver, from In Blackwater Woods

It’s that last part I have a hard time with, the letting go. For me the only thing that really does anything to ease the grief is the passage of time. With time, I get used to the absence. I’m still sad and still miss them, but that ache becomes somehow normal, incorporated. I allow other things to fill up the emptiness. I am comforted that they aren’t in pain anymore and there’s now space for another dog who needs a place to go, someone to love.

The thing I can’t get used to is never seeing them again, ever. I realize that some people have the comfort of a belief system that allows for some reunion at a later date. I don’t. That moment in time is over and will never be again, and I can’t quite get over that.

2 thoughts on “Day of Rest

  1. Mary Montanye

    We lost our cocker, Chrissie, on October 30, 2015. We had her for 18 years. As long as it takes t raise a human child. The ache is less, but I agree with you. It is never completely gone. Nor should it be, I guess.

    Reply

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