I was in a bit of a funk last week.
Then I entered the weekend. On the calendar, two memorials, one for a dad of an old pal, and one for an elementary school friend. On the pages of my social media pages, two writing sisters, each sharing the pain of their own deep personal loss. At home, our daughter’s dog, a dog we had loved for a short four years, a survivor that we had adopted when he had one eye and one tooth, was communicating he was ready to move on too.
In my email, came a musing from a writer I greatly admire, Ann Patchett. She was in the middle of a writing project, looking for a book or two to shed some light and “take me out of my own head for a while.”
I needed that too. I was stuck in my head. Stuck on the page. And to a certain extent stuck at home, petting and comforting this wise old dog and his owner.
I drove up to Capitol Hill, picked up that dog owner from work and said, “let’s take a quick stop at the bookstore.”
This girl loves books. I knew what her answer would be.
I picked up two of Ann’s recommendations, My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Nobel lecture and The Monk of Mokha, by Dave Eggers and headed home. She recommended these two books with phrases like “breath of clarity” and “inspiring dreams” and I was ready for both.
In between memorial services, I read these two lovely books. While grief passed through me and all around the rooms I walked through, the words followed like loyal pets. Passages were highlighted. Certain sections reread. I googled for facts. And the thoughts raced around and around. I followed the grief of my she writes sister and took in her beautiful poetry dedicated to her mother. I slept and dreamed fitfully, as a small dog woke to sip water and give his last gifts to my daughter.
Standing at the counter, mixing the comforting ingredients of meatballs, (eggs, milk and bread crumbs) I inhaled the wisdom of these two authors. Relationships. Dreams. Connection. Optimism. Hope. A sense of humor through it all.
I reheard the words spoken at the service. Grief is love.
So, is laughter, I thought. As my daughter and I laughed uncontrollably, in the middle of the night, as we tried to breathe through the incredible bad breath and occasional gas of her dog.
A dog we didn’t know we needed. A dog with all sorts of lessons also. Patience. Understanding. The lesson of hanging in there.
The vet came to our house yesterday and with grace he assisted my daughter with this last goodbye.
Later that evening, I tried to connect all the dots of the weekend. Passages. Amazing books that took me out of my head. Old friends. All the dogs I have ever lived with. The dots circled on each other and back again to the same important detail about love and grief and life.
The importance of showing up and digging in.