The Gift We Cannot Give
“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”
- Mary Oliver, Dog Songs
On Saturday we lost our sweet Basil to spleen cancer. It came on fast and furious. Twelve hours of tests, fear and apprehension, coming to grips with what was, and what had to be and then finally accepting it. We were able to be with him in his finally hour, snuggled up close to him on the soft blanket they provided. He relaxed at the sound of our voices and managed to life his head, make eye contact, and touch his cold nose to my face. I whispered in his ear every sweet name I had ever called him and told him over and over how much we loved him, and that it was okay to let go. I rubbed his soft ears and that spot he loved so in the crook of his neck. When his breathing grew labored the time came and the vet slipped in and he simply took his last breath; peaceful and calm. We walked out different people.
We are both a bit lost now. It seems that everything we did or planned was done so with Basil in mind. I can't eat, or sleep or pick up my camera. My husband is quiet. We are just letting ourselves morn in the way we each need to. Being gentle with each other and ourselves. No expectations or rules.
He had had the perfect day on Friday. His back was healing and he was out in the yard with me most of the day. My husband took him to Home Depot and they shared a cheeseburger on the way home. He laid on the warm deck napping in the sun and ate sugar snap peas out of my hand. We had no clue as to what was coming.
I was actually laying on the grass when I took what was almost the very last photo I would take of him. On my back shooting up through some yellow poppies. He walked by and I turned my camera and snapped.
I am going to take a break for a bit and I am not sure how that will look. I want to thank you for all the beautiful comments you have sent over the past years about our sweet boy. He was my saving grace, a gift I didn't know I needed to make it through some painful times in life. He was my constant companion and my unconditional love.
THE SWEETNESS OF DOGS
Mary Oliver - Dog Songs
What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. It’s full tonight.
So we go
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit, myself
thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! how rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up
into my face. As though I were just as wonderful
as the perfect moon.