Things to do after your dog has died

Sweep the floor

Look out the window

Pant

Make a cup of tea and some toast

But then not eat them

Change the sheets on the bed

Try to sing

Start to cry

Forget what day it is

Stumble into a corner of the floor and hold your knees tightly

Keen

Pull yourself together

Make another cup of tea and this time drink it

Look out a different window

Stare at that spot on the floor where your dog used to stretch out, languid and happy, his paws twitching as he raced across sleep meadows and into dream ravines filled with moss and ferns and the scent of foxes

Look for the Kleenex

Use toilet paper instead

Wander around the house,  your heart like a damned anvil in your chest

Heat up leftovers

Push them around the plate before leaving the entire thing in the sink

Look for what is not there

Hear things

Feel the forgotten fur beneath your fingertips

Feel the forgetting begin

Hold a memory, any memory, bright and shining, soft and sad, smelling of wet fur and leaves, with a whisker there and muddy paw prints left on the stairs, of a walk of a hike of a trip to the park with a treat and a bone and a bally rub snacks stolen off the counter and tug of war and the squeaky toy a glance of complicity in play with your hand on head with tail wagging and breath misting in the morning light or the moon over the trees while an owl croons ears are pricked and nose to the ground sniffing, sniffing, sniffing following the invisible trail to its joyful finding

Put on your pajamas

Turn around three times before you curl up by the rope toy and find yourself chasing the echo of a bark into a night that will never end

Grow a tail

 

Catherine Young 11.27.12

 

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the last of the light on her pretty, knowing face.

rest in so much peace, sweet maita. you were the very dearest. the most earnest. you saw and knew all of it. all our life. saw and knew all of me. your big flaw (aside from biting puppies) was loving too hard, and that can't really be a problem. thank you for the one zillion lessons. you leave gaping holes, but you will never be all the way gone.

today is my last day with this gorgeous girl. this sister of mine. my heart is living in the soles of my feet and i might float away on this river of sadness, except that i owe it to maya to be the strong one for once. this time it has to be me making it right, because she would keep living in all of her pain and hurt until she disintegrated if it were up to her. if it meant staying with me. it might sound self-absorbed, but if you know maya you know of what i speak.
so we will walk our last walk and feast on salty meats and i will memorize her stink and the cold of her nose. the cloudy love-filled eyes. how her ear rolls between my thumb and finger and she smiles. i will be thankful for these last surprise months, and the adventures and love we crammed into the gift of those days. i will miss the sound of her labored breathing and her vigilance and her ability to absorb my fears and know my worries (perhaps by sitting at my feet all these years and somehow learning to leach it from where she lay?). always looking out for me. but there will be the shadows in her eyes, and the times she looks like she is scaring herself. the reasons i have. how her light has been steadily dimming. i will have to remember how she would lay shaking, where it hurt, but she would beg to walk to the dock. she would walk beside me till her legs were left behind. unswerving.
i think this is the only gift i can give her. all that is left; relief. surrounded by all of us. at home. we all owe her that. i just hope i'll remember these things when she isn't here to remind me.

for last year's words belong to last year's language
and next year's words await another voice.
and to make an end is to make a beginning."
t.s. eliot
a very happy, shiny new year to you all. to finding new voices.