Let us follow the natural order of things and begin with the primary facts.
I once read “All living things die.” I know that the heroic nature of our modern life is that we have something to lose. We lose our life.
But while I still have my life, I can lose the lives of others around me. I have lost friends, acquaintances, and last year I lost my father.
This week I lost my dog.
Dogs are even more mortal than humans. Seven times more mortal, using the rule of thumb that 1 dog year is 7 human years. Lucy dog had 13 years.
She was with me for all but the first part of her life. She did not know my inmost thoughts, but she definitely knew when I came home every day.
We shared a house. She paid more attention to this family than we paid to each other. We had to make room for one another, and work with each other to get what we needed. She did this expertly.
She had to ask to be let outside, so that she didn’t pee in the house. I didn’t want her to pee in the house, but I had less grace about it than she did. I would yell, “Didn’t I just open this door to let you in, and now you want me to open it again to let you out?!”
But we helped each other out.
She persuaded us to get to know our neighborhood, because she was confident that we needed to walk in it.
And we did. With alternating gratitude and grumbling, we learned the way the seasons flowered over the course of her life.
Until we were entwined. Every time I opened a door, every time I finished a meal, she had a request.
Empty peanut butter jars had a purpose.
And now she is gone. And the crusts I cut off my daughter’s sandwich are unsent letters.
I didn’t know they were important. Now they are mournful. My love-demanding dog is gone. I’ve learned that love is created in the giving of it, even if it is unwilling.