Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Thing About Goodbyes...

In the predawn hours of Thursday, July 27th, our little Sasha died. Tiny Sasha, scared and shy Sasha, big-brown-eyed Sasha, fluffy toy-sized Sasha. I've been unable to write about it—hence the hiatus in posts. This is the fifth attempt at a draft, and quite honestly I'm not sure if I'm going to finish this time, either. Yes, of course it was my fault—isn't it always?—but I don't think that's the reason I find this so hard. Or not all of the reason. Maybe it has to do with the impossibility of quantifying loss. In a weird way, paying tribute to her like this, by writing about her death, by "announcing" it, so to speak, so publicly, feels like a lie. There is no way that the huge ways her little self impacted our lives can be translated into words. No way that I can capture the joy she gave us, the bottomless pit her absence left behind... No way I can do any of it justice.

But I must write about it. Until I do, I can write nothing else. Not on this blog, not (really) on the other one, not in my notebooks, not in my journal, not even a short story. I can't, no, because what happened to her left not just a hollow emptiness in the house, in the family, but also wreaked indelible, irreversible change on those of us still here. Powerful lessons that need to be assimilated. Learning on managing the ways our dogs relate to one another, and even to me. Observation skills that need to be developed. So, so much learning. And all of it needs to be processed and mulled over and, eventually, written—

But I cannot write about this, either. That is where every previous draft has fallen short. Fallen flat. Fallen away from the intention I set out to achieve, without ever taking the trouble to define it, even to myself. Every word I write, that is not about Sasha, feels like I am moving away from her. Every word I have written, that is about Sasha, feels like I'm reducing her death into a lesson, something practical and mundane. Every word I write, about or not about Sasha, has felt like I'm leaving her behind—without saying goodbye.

That is the intention I had, when I began that first draft two days after she died. That was the purpose. But in telling the story of her death, in explaining the hows and the whens and the (stupid, stupid) mistakes that led to it, the Goodbye fell further and further behind, until it shimmered so distant in the rear view mirror of the words as the mirage of water on a hot summer highway at noon.

Here it is, then. Goodbye, little Sasha. I did love you, much, much more than I was able to convey to you. And I'm glad you came to our lives, and to our house. I'm glad we didn't give you away back then. Maybe you would have lived longer if we had, so it's selfish of me to say this, but I really am glad you stayed.
So, we'll go no more a roving
   So late into the night,
Though the heart be still as loving,
   And the moon be still as bright.
For the sword outwears its sheath,
   And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
   And love itself have rest.
Though the night was made for loving,
   And the day returns too soon,
Yet we'll go no more a roving
   By the light of the moon.
(So We'll Go No More A-Roving, Lord Byron)