Wednesday, March 26, 2014

On Loss

I don't know how to follow-up my last post.

Odin is gone, turned into ashes, hidden away in a cedar box on my bookshelf. I'm planning on placing his remains under the roots of a Japanese maple that I will plant in front of my office window this spring. A red tree to mark my red dog.

I'm concerned that the tree will die. That I will ruin this tribute.

When you don't believe in anything beyond the physical, does it make the gesture of burial, the act of paying homage more or less important? I can't decide.

 Karma, our other dog, is depressed. She doesn't eat much. She kept searching for him.

And, incredibly, life goes on.

But I find myself searching for him too. Scanning the room. Looking behind me to where he should be. Where he always was.

Loss is a funny thing. The most available script comes from fiction and we feel beholden to following it. Am I sad enough? I wonder. But sad is not nearly complicated enough to represent how I feel. I am relieved he is no longer in pain, happy to recall the good times, a bit angry, there's some guilt, a dollop of tightness about my chest that I have no label for. A tear always at the ready.

The thought that occurs most frequently makes me feel childish: I want my dog back.

And, incredibly, life goes on.

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Saddest Day as a Dog Owner So Far

I don't know how to say this so I'm just going to lay it out there: Odin is going to be put to sleep next Saturday.

For those of you who don't know, Odin in my dog. Our doberman. Our first baby.

He has a leg tumor that's causing him a lot of pain. As is the way of cancer, the bigger it gets the faster it grows. It was just diagnosed a month ago. The vet said these things move fast. I was thinking we had until summer - I don't know where I came up with that but it got lodged in my mind somehow. That we'd have one last spring.

Today I called and scheduled the appointment. He's not even going to make it until spring. I was crying so hard on the phone I could barely make myself understood.

He's a mommy's boy. My boy. He's been right there with me for almost 10 years. My jogging companion, my hiking companion, my work companion, my bathroom companion...just thinking of him gone I envision this Odin-shaped hole following me around from place to place.

I've been taking lots of photos and videos of him and the baby. Since he's always with me, he's always with the baby too. Licking the baby. Letting the baby crawl on him. Laying next to him.

I take videos of the baby giggling as Odin limps around him and think how our Little Guy will have no memory of this dog who was an ever present part of his life. Odin will mean nothing to him.

Odin will never grow to be the crotchety old man I always envisioned. He won't gas us out of the room with old dog farts. He won't develop arthritis.

Because of a lump on his leg, he's got to leave us forever. I stare at that lump and think how unfair it is. He has four legs after all and he's otherwise healthy. But he's too big to be a three legged dog. He's too old to be put through that. Nine and a half is about the average life expectancy of a doberman. We should be happy he made it this long and was healthy for almost all of it. We should be happy that he won't have prolonged suffering.

But it's hard to be happy.

Odin - we've had some good times buddy. Mommy loves you, always.