It's been a while. So long that I almost couldn't remember my blogger password.
I was asked the other day if I'd stopped writing because of Isabelle's death. It's a fair question. And a logical assumption, I suppose. My golden girl dies, I publish a heartfelt account of her passing, re post a feverishly developed tear stained photographic retrospective of her life and ride off into a dark sunset. Nobody ever sees or hears from me again.
[Cue poignant strings.]
Alas, after Isabelle died, we all had to go on. And so we did. Like Tom Hanks' character in "Sleepless in Seattle", we "got out of bed every morning". We "breathed in and out". Christmas was at hand, you may recall. A mere ten days away at the time. Holiday champagne punch had to be purchased and drunk. Presents opened. Homemade cinnamon rolls (laboriously) baked and iced. The newest family member celebrated and welcomed into the tradition.
Which isn't to say it wasn't otherwise a pretty bleak season. Especially for a certain fur sister all on her own now.
Tallulah looked like this for a really long time.
I remember thinking of her as "limp" back then. Just sort of lifeless. She still barked, still sounded the alarm when she had to--it's her duty after all-- but she'd lost her natural enthusiasm for the job. She was sad, obviously. A dog who'd spent all her short life identifying herself as part of an "us". Tallulah missed her long suffering big sister. And she didn't quite know who she herself was without that benevolent and reassuring presence nearby.
She was clearly grieving.
By January we'd begun to notice the fur on Tallulah's butt seemed strangely thinner and by the middle of that month, realized the dog had begun to obsessively bite down on and then yank out chunks of her fur all at once, leaving behind a random patchwork of aggravated naked pink booty skin. I suppose it's the canine equivalent of "cutting".
It wasn't pretty.
I'd read and heard tell of dogs on Prozac, tranquilizers, and all matter of pharmaceutical treatment for psychological ailments, but I did not want that for Tallulah. Not unless there was absolutely no other alternative. And so I hoped. And soothed and petted and babied her even more than usual (if that's possible). During some unseasonably warm days, we took her on some very long walks on the nature trail, and she seemed to me perk up a little at those times, her sad little half naked butt cheeks working double-time to keep up the pace.
She was still game, by golly. Down, but not out.
In March, I climbed out of bed one morning and, still half asleep and unthinking, stumbled through the house, walked to the back door, yanked it open and bellowed,
to an empty yard. It scared the hell out of me, not because it would be all that unusual to reflexively call a recently deceased dog you'd had for over a decade. But because I do not consciously think about Isabelle very much. I am careful not to, in fact. Standing there with the door knob still in my hand that morning I thought of a phrase I've heard over the years, and one that had always kind of annoyed me at that,
"He [or she] has not dealt with his/her grief."
Shouting out my dead dog's name to an empty yard that day caused the loss to suddenly spring up out of nowhere and smack me upside the head like a dead carp.
Suzanne has not dealt with her grief.
(This is the voice in my head talking. It says SUPER annoying shit like this.)
I slammed the door shut that day and wondered just how one successfully "deals with grief". Writhe around in the driveway? Write a heartwarming memoir called "Marley and Me" in which the dog (guess what?) dies at the end?
Oh, wait! Somebody already did that.
Or, maybe I could...oh, I don't know. Maybe just WRITE MORE IN GENERAL? About anything. Or at all. Yah, that's the ticket!
Yanking out my butt fur isn't really an option.