Archive for July, 2012
The other evening, the temperature dropped from a hundred and something to seventy something in fifteen minutes while the sky grew dark and the wind blew hard. Of course, we had to go out and be a part of that. The coolness, the darkness, the wind – it was where the love was. It felt so good. We laughed while the wind whipped our hair around. Some of us chased each other up and down the sidewalk and had a spitting war. One of us went inside to show the rest of us what she found slipped under her bedroom door earlier that day.
It was glorious.
When the rain is blowing in your face
And the whole world is on your case
I could offer you a warm embrace
To make you feel my love
When the evening shadows and the stars appear
And there is no one there to dry your tears
I could hold you for a million years
To make you feel my love
The storms are raging on the rolling sea
And on the highway of regret
The winds of change are blowing wild and free
You ain’t seen nothing like me yet
I could make you happy, make your dreams come true
Nothing that I wouldn’t do
Go to the ends of the earth for you
To make you feel my love
*Lyrics by Bob Dylan
If when you can’t find enough free minutes in your day to replace your desktop wallpaper that you used to love but now you hate, then it’s time to let something else go.
If when you neglect other things and you find that beautiful picture of a city at night blurred in the background behind a steaming mug of coffee sitting on the edge of a high-rise balcony, then it’s time to start neglecting more things.
If when your one teenage daughter brings up the fact (at the dinner table) that the other teenage daughter deleted her as a friend on Facebook and wants to know what you’re going to do about it and the other teenage daughter yells very animatedly that she was sick of the one teenage daughter’s posts about almonds taking up her wall space, then you will know that there just might not be any hope for these daughters so you might as well enjoy your dinner by making fun of both of them.
If when your boss has you make a list of all your duties and how long it takes you to complete each of them and when you’re done compiling the list, the totals show that you would have to work a 13.86 hour day every day (not counting lunch or any other breaks) just to complete each task in the average amount of time, then you should refer back up to the first If When.
If when your teenage daughters get mad when you make fun of them, then you should squeeze their chins and tell them how cute they are.
If when you find that you used to love lots of things that you now hate, then maybe it’s time to make cookies.
If when you’re driving home from work and the clouds are stacked one on top of the other in amazing, perfectly outlined fluffiness, then you should look forward to your youngest daughter running in the house after riding her scooter outside a couple hours later to tell you that you have to come and look at the beautiful sunset.
If when you hate your room because it’s messy, clean it.
If when you can’t believe how much you miss the sound of claws tapping on the floor, following you all around the house, running to get dropped food off the floor, sitting companionably near you when you’re resting, hurrying to follow you outside to roll around in the grass while you sit in the twilight and watch the last of the pink clouds disappear, then cry.
If when you get the chance to go out to lunch with your dad and it’s just the two of you outside on the patio at a nice restaurant with the summer breeze blowing and the sound of the trolley mixing in with the rest of the traffic on the city streets makes you change the volume of your conversation often, like a symphony, and you talk about things you will remember forever, then don’t ever let that moment go.
Last night we said goodbye to our boy. He’s been going downhill rapidly these last couple weeks. There appears to be a big, soft tumor growing in his belly while the rest of him gets skinnier and bonier. Every small movement is an immense amount of effort. His breathing has been shallow and rapid for days now and I don’t know the last time he ate or drank or even slept. He seems afraid to close his eyes. We were pretty sure he wouldn’t make it through the night so we gathered all the kids around to love on him and say goodbye before going to bed on the eve of the anniversary of the day of our country’s independence.
I sat there and rubbed his back with tears streaming down my face as I suffered along with him. Grace asked if dogs go to heaven and wondered what Togo was thinking and wondered if he could understand us and if he knew that we loved him. We all wondered together. We talked about the things we knew: while dogs are good, loyal companions, created by a loving and merciful God, only man is made in the image of God. Togo gave glory to God with every day of his life by being who he was created to be, which was the best dog a family could ever hope for. After she had asked all that there was to ask, Grace got up, seemingly satisfied with our semi-non-answers, put her arms tenderly around Togo’s neck, kissed the top of his head, then went around kissing and hugging the rest of us while saying goodnight and she went to bed.
Sadie stood for a long time, not wanting to sit, just looking at Togo, with a deep, dark look in her eyes. She never said a word and wouldn’t give away her thoughts or feelings but kept them inside herself in that cautious way she has always done. I let her stand for a long time before making a gentle motion with my hand to encourage her to come and sit by him and me. She did and as she let her fingers run through his fur, her chin began to wobble and her dark eyelashes got even darker. We sat there for awhile, never saying a word.
Callie openly cried and talked to him and cupped his chin so very compassionately in her hands while he raised his head to look at her. He didn’t take his eyes off her face for the longest time, though he struggled for every breath. She sat there with her bright blue fingernails caressing his face while her bright blue toenails in her bright blue flip flops were next to his heaving, laboring body and the tears fell freely out of her bright blue eyes. As his head finally fell back to the ground, she left the room and went to get a drink of water where Chris held her and I rubbed her arm while she wept.
Sometime while the three of us were in the other room, Sadie must have said her private goodbye to Togo because when we came back, she had gone to bed. I went in to say goodnight where I got an uncharacteristic, extended hug and a heartfelt kiss on the face and a genuinely tender declaration of love. When Chris went to say goodnight, she was crying and hugged him tightly and wouldn’t let him turn her light off. I don’t know if she turned it off at all last night.
Chris sat with his buddy a long, long time after the rest of us went to bed. After a while, he was able to coax him slowly back to our room where we slept and Togo laid beside the bed, wheezing but still.
We woke up this morning to everything exactly the same. He’s fighting hard, not wanting to give up. I don’t think he’s closed his eyes in a couple days. I’ve been at many births but this is the first time I’ve had the privilege of being at the end of a loved one’s life. There is much that is the same, with the tender, quiet voices and the laboring and waiting. Time slows down a bit and life gets a little quieter.
I’m really thankful for the wonderful dog we’ve had for the past eight years. And I’m really thankful for the sweet family time we had last night. It is good to love and care for and grieve all creation together.