Saturday, December 31, 2011


First of all, thanks to all my readers who offered support yesterday. My god, what a day. I don't have a lot of experience with mourning, mercifully, and let me tell you, yesterday was brutal.

I'll spare you the details, except to say that everything went smoothly and as planned.

I cried on and off all day, but the real enormity of what had occurred didn't hit me until last night as I sat talking with Dave before dinner. I realized that not only am I mourning the dogs, but also my own sense of purpose. For nearly this entire year, much of my time has been taken up with planning for the dogs' move, shuttling them to veterinary appointments in the states, preparing to have them shipped to England, anticipating their arrival and finally, once they were here, caring for them. The dogs have been my job.

Dave certainly helped, but he had his teaching and other work-related obligations to distract him. Even he would agree I took the lead on dog care and planning.

Now, obviously, all of that is over. I'm thankful for the cleaner house (I spent most of yesterday afternoon cleaning -- vacuuming, washing the floors, doing laundry) but I'm left with a sense of emptiness and uncertainty. What do I do now?

I have never lived without an animal. Now here I am, animalless. (Or is it animal-less?)

Oddly, I've found some comfort in the Bill Bryson book I'm currently reading. He talks about life on Earth, how it arose and its incredible diversity. Did you know that something like 99 percent of all the species that ever existed are already extinct? Life just keeps growing and evolving all around us -- we die, the substances of our bodies become other things or organisms, and we're reborn again. In the vastness of time, our individual lives are so short. Ernie and Ruby have moved on in the cycle, but I feel like they are still all around me, part of the fecundity of the world.

(Photo: Moss on a telephone exchange box in Maida Vale, yesterday afternoon. England is a very mossy place, and I'm often impressed with how diligently it grows in the most unlikely locations.)


  1. I think you have captured my worst fear about eventually losing Jake. Every morning when he slowly stirs back to life, we have a little routine of greeting each other. And so it goes throughout the day. He has an uncanny way of knowing when I am making something in the kitchen that allows him to lick a bowl.

    It will indeed feel so empty when those routines that punctuate my sometimes otherwise purposeless days are gone.

    After your tears have subsided and you and Dave have comforted each other, maybe you will make a trip to the local animal shelter and choose a dog (or two) that needs a loving home, knowing that you in fact need an animal just as much as that animal needs you.

    RIP Ruby and Ernie.

  2. "What do I do now?"

    The Zennie in me knows you just need to sit with that question for a while. It's easier said than done, of course, but the answer will arise in its own time. There's no need to rush or delay it.

    I'm thinking of you and Dave during this difficult time, and keeping Ruby and Ernie's memory close. You gave them a full and rich life, and the dignity of a merciful death.

  3. I imagine the days following such a hard day will be the most difficult, but I also imagine that you will deal with them in your customary graceful manner. Sending comfort to you --

  4. I can't think of a better book to be reading, Steve. That book is one of my sacred texts.

    Sending all my love, warmth, light and good clean energy to you both!

  5. I love the ghost of the dog on your last post.

    It's very cruel the way we are forced to take on this role. In France, the vet decides when it's time. They find that the French are more likely to grieve for their pets, less likely to try to second guess the right moment.

    Every one of us worries we did it too soon or too late.

    Much love to you.

  6. such a hard juncture, steve. in seeming emptiness, there is opportunity. it will present itself soon enough. time to just sit and listen for the whispers of what your soul wants now. i know you miss them. but you gave them your all. much love.

  7. My heart goes out to you! I've been in your place and know exactly how it feels. I hope the new year brings you much joy and happiness.