A month ago, the oldest dog left the planet. Karington was very protective against any wild animal that came around. At night she sat in her space watching over anyone who was in the room; a mystic, looking right through you, pretending to sleep, continuously aware.
I met my wife and daughter at the clinic, the unmentionable process of giving Karington her relief from suffering, her freedom to go on. I was not ready for their (wife and daughter) intense emotions – – – cathartic grief. I’ve seen such tears from my wife only when her father died in 2001; my daughter’s weeping, unprecedented. My own process was to disconnect from such emotions, to wrap it all up as ” … I don’t want to see Karington suffer any more; let her chase squirrel and elk up in heaven; it is time for us to let her go.” Our Bernese (Mountain Dog) knew that her older friend was not coming back, but sang the blues here & there, moved a little slower, as if trying to swim in a pond of molasses.
The kids were getting on with their days, my wife did the same, but there was something left over from the proverbial storm; the air did not return to its earlier place, the familiar texture. Just as I thought we were shifting gears, getting closer to life as we know it, my visionary-wife gave me the scoop:
- “Okay, T, I’ve been doing some research.”
“Uh-oh … Let me sit down.”
“We can get a Great Pyrenees pup down in Texas, near Frisco.” (Pause … I maintain a poker face) “If we leave on Saturday after you get off work, we could get down to Louisiana to see your parents on Sunday, spend the day there with them, and then go to Texas and get the pup. We could get you back in time for you to work on Tuesday night. What do you think?”
Have you ever been hit with an idea, invitation to adventure, challenge, and your first response is “I’m not ready for this …”? And then, somewhere in the process (for lack of better word) it is revealed that … yes … you were ready. If it is up to us, we might say “Oh, no. No, no, no. I’m not ready for this to happen at this juncture.” And, then again, maybe we are ready … and we just don’t know it. We loaded up on Saturday morning (the 21st), grabbed Starbucks on the way out, hammered our way East, turned right somewhere in Kansas. At some point I looked out the window and saw a stunning mix of colors in the western sky; residue of the sunset.
Journey’s end at 3:30am; part dead of night, part pre-dawn morning. ‘Saw my mom & dad Sunday around Noon. Dad’s 92. My dad has an amazing mind, good heart, though sometimes disoriented. It was really good to hang out there on Sunday. We left Monday morning, after stopping to see Mom & Dad on the way out. It was odd, Dad was unusually agitated that morning. He was lying down, somewhat anxious, talking about his shoulder. I was cautious, but compelled to put my hands on each of his shoulders, applying slight pressure, and I told him to rest, and I breathed out slowly, inhaled, and continued that process. Dad closed his eyes, calmed down, and slept. The whole thing was fairly strange, but not in an unpleasant sense. We knew it was time to head out, so I hugged Mom, spoke a few blessings over her. In route to Texas, I didn’t fight my reflective silence; going to a place near Frisco, to pick up a dog.
We connected with the rancher (who breeds the Pyrenees) in Scranton, TX: weathered cowboy hat; jeans tucked into Tony Lama cowboy boots with a dirt glaze; few teeth missing; healthy girth; and a joyful countenance accentuated with a reddish glow in his face, eyes with a slight squint and a child’s smile.
She was 14 weeks old, a Great Pyrenees pup; the biggest pup I have ever had to pick up. We made it back, to the Other Side of the Trees, with one more dog than when we started. It was all a blur. And why wouldn’t it be, eh? Life is that way, even when I don’t think I am ready.