Words have escaped me for the last six months or so, my mind as empty as the bottom of a well after a summer of severe drought. So much has happened yet so little really, in the grand scheme of life. My Dad’s death, the third pillar of our family of four, has hit me hard, even though we never were close. Maybe that is why I have felt so alone and adrift. I am the final wall left standing and am now aware that my time is also coming to a close. It may not be for a quarter of a century or maybe tomorrow that fate will decide I am to die. But I am the only one left. It takes a bit getting used to, the idea that we are all visitors here on earth. No one gets out alive, although when we are young it seems like there is always tomorrow and the next tomorrow and sunsets and gorgeous sunny mornings.
Everyone looks at death differently. There is no right or wrong way to assimilate losing a friend, a loved one or a family member. I’ve found I do not cry endlessly, except for the loss of a dog and what does that say about me? For months and months my brain has felt bogged down, the gears turning slowly, as my whole being gets used to one less person to talk to, one less confidante, one less family member who “gets” me, the real me. Maybe that’s the most difficult part of being left behind. No one is there to laugh at the goofy-ness that makes me, me. But as usual, I hide behind my dogs, bury my face in their fur, tell them my pain and give them soft kisses and hugs. Somehow they help me become human again. No one needs to accept that this is how I process grief. Caring for my animals has always pulled me through life’s twists and turns.
BUT…recently I found myself withdrawing from my gold dog, Bodie, worried that he too would die. In November he developed a mysterious and severe ailment, which I attributed to his love for eating acorns or maybe a problem with his kibble diet. Two veterinarians and a thousand dollars later I have no definite diagnosis. Bodie has been at death’s door, he’s recovered, and sometimes he’s even been a dynamite ball of young Border Collie energy again. But over the months, regardless of which medications he’s been on, he still has heavy beet-red blood in his urine. One test after another has ruled out kidney or bladder stones, although maybe one vet saw crystals in his urine. Bodie’s too young for prostate trouble or cancer, so I’m told. I called the dog food company I use, only to be told their food was a problem for my dog. Their food was fine, but then of course they’d say that. But they did mention that the PH level in their food is high. Concerned, I bought some Stella and Chewy’s dehydrated Turkey and fed it to all my dogs. Bodie became the energizer bunny again. But the red blood continues to flow out of his urine. Will I lose my sweet dog to some strange malady? Tomorrow we have an appointment with the vets at the Auburn University Small Animal Hospital. I can only say that I am done with antibiotics of one kind or another, especially since nothing shows on ultrasounds or x-rays and the drugs have made no difference. I want a diagnosis, a conclusion, a way to resolve Bodie’s health problem. From Auburn I may be on a path to natural medicine. One vet confided that the school does not spend an extraordinary amount of time teaching their students nutrition. I find that sad and worrisome.
Unlike so many others, the election results did not cause me to stand in front of moving traffic and protest. In the 70’s, when protesting the Vietnam War was the “in” thing to do, I skipped my college classes once and joined my friends to protest with them in Boston. Once in the city we went out for lunch and consequently missed the big protest. It was all very silly and I shudder to think what my parents would have thought had they seen me on the evening news. Now protesting has become a mercenary sport with no thought, apparently, of how an arrest and felony record could ruin one’s future. My extent of protesting now is to give the fake news reporters the finger as I watch their whining on TV. In the end no one really gives a rat’s ass what I think about the state of the union or about who is or isn’t president. I’d like to keep it that way and have unfollowed the people on Facebook who enjoy drawing attention to themselves by forcing their opinion on me. I gave them the finger too. That’s the extent of my public opinion too, the finger. I crack me up sometimes, laughing at myself.
On a more personal scale I looked in the mirror one day and told the stranger looking back at me to leave my house at once. But the stranger had become me. Somewhere in the eight hard years of taking care of my parents my face had caved in on itself. I needed a change. Presto, change-o and I was off to the doctor’s office, for an upper and lower Blepharoplasty. So I went from ugly enough to scare horses and small children to getting my own Halloween mask, in January no less. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Along with the healing I decided to go on a diet, already down one size but pushing for a size seven. No chocolate, no cookies, cakes, pies, and only an occasional glass of wine. Just shoot me now. This better be worth it!
Now as the warm weather occasionally visits us here in north Florida, I feel a bit rejuvenated. My Dad’s man cave is now my craft room, with enough disorder to honor his spirit but organized enough to also please my Mom, who is no doubt looking down from Heaven. There are dog shows coming up as well as a trip back to the northeast to explore childhood memories of hiking, horses and innocence. There are also new crafts for me to learn. As always I will be writing my thoughts, hopes and dreams, along with some short fiction stories that are crawling around in my imagination. Words still possess me and must be transformed through the keyboard out into the world, set free. I hope you will follow me on my continuing journey.