The Rock Has Become Heavy

Our precious Addie reached the end of her journey on August 31, 2015, and Sisyphus’ rock was once again put in my care; it is a heavy rock and it seems to be resisting my influence, or at the very least in this moment it seems to be more attuned to gravity. Gravity in the sense that the rock is heavy, and gravity in the sense that this moment in and of itself is heavier than I thought it could be.
In June of 2005 I decided that we needed a dog; Bill was not really in agreement, but during our negotiations we came to an agreement, “we have spent the past 9 years without a dog and now we can spend the next 9 years with a dog, and at the end of that time we will decide which 9 years was better.” Prior to Addie coming into our lives our home looked as if we were getting ready for a photo shoot. The lawns, the gardens, and especially the house were always pristine. Bill exercises great pride in keeping a beautiful home and I am forever grateful to him for that. But that all changed quickly, the back lawn began to have dead spots, the carpet had paw prints, and I did not keep my promise of vacuuming at least once per week. To be honest, I really did plan on being helpful, but I just didn’t feel motivated to do so.
But with all of those truths, the bigger truth is, Addie brought to us so much life and purpose beyond our imagining that none of the rest of it seemed to matter. I readily adopted the mantra “who cares about the grass, Addie is so much more important than a perfect lawn” and I continue to believe in this mantra. However, part of the weight of the rock is, we are left with a less than perfect lawn and we are left with a carpet that has been lived on by a big dog; when I look at these things now, I am forced to see them without following through with a kiss to Addie’s beautiful face. Bill doesn’t get to lay on the floor and cuddle with Addie and decide that he just doesn’t care about water spots on the wood floors, at least in that moment.
Addie was the security blanket that we hugged when life seemed bigger than we could handle; when we closed our floral business in 2007 Addie dried the tears from Bill’s face; when we both had major medical issues in 2009, 2010, and 2011, Addie listened and loved the partner while the other was busy being the patient. When I returned home from my father’s funeral Addie greeted me at the door with the love reserved for a pet owner from his pet. But today, as I attempt to pick up the rock of grief Addie is the cause and not the cure.
I am so blessed to be a human who understands the need for physical healing of spiritual and emotional pain. Pets fill this need so beautifully, and although we have our little Mario, a precocious Min Pin, and we love him so very much, Mario cannot fill the space that Addie has left; Mario is experiencing his own loss. In the last year of her life Addie’s needs changed the ritual profoundly. She could no longer make it up the stairs from her kennel in the basement; we moved her to a dog bed in the middle of the living room, and we placed Mario’s kennel next to the fire place. The dog dishes had to be moved upstairs also; they became a decorating fixture between my chair and the French patio doors. The feeding schedule became shoving Addie’s meds down her throat while Mario did a happy dance waiting to have his food dish placed on the floor under Addie’s elevated dish. The evening of August 31 all those changes became moot and Mario gets to learn a new ritual.
Today, as I reflect on the negotiations of June of 2005, I am reminded that I promised to ask the question; “which was better, the nine years without a dog, or the nine (actually 10) years with a dog?” And as heavy as this damn rock is, as much as I want to reach the moment when her beauty is more paramount in my existence than the profound loss that I feel, I can tell you with no hesitation, Addie was given to us prior to our understanding how much we would need to have her, and there is no comparison to life before Addie to life with Addie; if only I could find peace with life after Addie I could begin the journey up the hill to at long last leave the rock at the summit in honor of our beautiful girl.
Peace all.
Ken

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