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)


  1. I have animal companions that I miss dearly at times. I've had two dreams of Muffin who died tragically. I would have thought someone being daft with this idea at one time. But I do believe she came to visit me to let me know she is well.

    1. Thank you, Ann. I'm not much of a believer in the afterlife, but it's a comforting thought nonetheless. Thank you for sharing, and for coming by to read.

    2. I feel a bit selfish that I did not think to offer my condolences. Grief is a difficult shadow.
      Afterlife, I've had your thoughts too. It is a mystery. Take care my friend.

    3. Please don't worry — and it's not selfish at all! What you offered instead was empathy and a bit of hope... That's beautiful, my friend, and I'm very grateful for it :)

  2. My deepest sympathies, Guilie. ♥ May the waves of grief lessen over time and the pleasant memories sustain you.

    1. Debbie, that has to be the most beautiful condolence message I've ever received. Thank you.

  3. Sasha knew how much you loved her. Dogs understand everything important. And there is no parent on the planet who hasn't made mistakes, including stupid, grievous ones. That doesn't mean we didn't do our human best or that we don't deserve forgiveness. You, of all people, should know that. I wish you peaceful holidays.

    1. Thank you, Susan. Indeed, mistakes come with the job... But it's up to us to mine them for the learning they bring. That, at least, is the way I've been dealing with my grief (and guilt)... Maybe that will be the way.

      Thank you so much for the visit, my friend. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season too :)

  4. Thanks Guilie, for sharing your experience with us about your love and loss of Sasha. Please take heart that it's only human to make mistakes. Sasha understands as dogs are very compassionate and godly creatures. I'm sure she cherished her time with you just as much as you did. Your poem was moving and beautiful and a fitting end to a beautiful life.

    1. Thank you so much for these words, Tracy. Your compassion and empathy come through loud and clear, and are very much appreciated. As much as I'd love to claim the copyright to the poem (isn't it lovely?), it's actually a Byron one. I just realized the credit, just under the image, came out so tiny you'd need a magnifying glass to even know it's there—will fix it right now :)

      Thanks so much for coming by!

  5. I love your poem and I am sorry for not seeing this sooner. I miss my Katie and, I question all things uncertain, but I had a dream shortly after my Katie passed away. I saw my dad walking in the woods on a path and Katie was beside him. He looked at me and said thank you for sending her to him. I cried that day but I found a bit of comfort. Whatever the reason, she was loved and love can never be a fault and I doubt she would have wanted to be anywhere else.


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