I’ve been out of pocket for a few weeks, extremely distracted and disinterested in anything related to writing. We had to put down our sweet whippet pup, Kahlil, on Thursday, June 13. He was 14 years old and the last of his litter of six to pass. He had been quite ill for a couple of weeks with some type of infection, and his heart (he had a heart murmur for five years) just couldn’t take it anymore.
These weeks have been incredibly hard and stressful. Now we are trying to find the resiliency to deal with our loss. He was our only pet, so the house is so empty and quiet without him. He was the center of our world. Some people may roll their eyes and say “he was just a dog,” but I don’t care. He was our faithful companion, a good runner and walker all these years, always waiting at the window for us to come home. All that matters is how we feel, not what others may think of us at this time.
This grief is different than what I have felt with grief at the loss of a person. I cannot compare the two. But it has been a long, long time that I have felt this sad after a death, so long that I almost cannot even remember. I want to be happy, because life goes on and there are so many things to be happy about right now. At this particular moment, it’s a beautiful summer evening in Minnesota—people are finally outside enjoying fresh air and the freedom that comes with summer. But even that has a dark cloud over it.
I pray for signs—signs that we will be OK, signs that we did the right thing, signs that my beloved dog is at peace. And I’m getting them. People are kind. Jenn at the Coffee Hag gave me a huge, supportive, strong, sympathetic hug, and a free drink I ran into my yoga teacher, Mel, and I could feel her healing energy spread to me. I was meant to see these people today, especially since today was a darker day. We got a thoughtful card from my cousin, someone who understands what it’s like to lose a dear pet.
One of the first things I did after Kahlil died was to return to The Prophet, written by Kahlil Gibran, our dog’s namesake.
Gibran has written the most beautiful words about sorrow that I’ve ever read. I was first struck by them about 20 years ago and have never forgotten:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
I also think it’s no coincidence that the last book I read before Kahlil died was a re-read of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. After every mention of death, he would write his famous line: So it goes.
Indeed, Mr. Vonnegut. So it goes.