Wednesday, November 11, 2009

on life and living

So when i flicked this thing back on a couple days ago I had a couple of completely amorphous and occasionally ambitious ideas of what form this shoppe would take, if any. I've got big ideas, see, and every so often the wherewithal to carry them out.

But one such concept I had involves this longer project that's been, well, haunting me for the past few years. As I told a kind and literary-minded coworker of mine who asked what I was working I sort of rolled my eyes, explaining "When I lie in bed and think about what I'm doing, it's not an as-yet unreviewed jazz album that keeps me up at night." So here we are.

Still, I haven't been entirely certain if this is the forum. But while I've been twirling that around in my head life, as it does, made a move. We've been lucky enough to have a remarkably smart, stubborn, smelly and utterly loving dog in our lives since I met my wife some six years ago (she's been lucky enough to enjoy the her company for around seven years prior to that). Shenoa is her name -- that's a sort of thoughts-eye view of her up above there -- and in addition to having a volatile digestive system we often joked has long been lined with fine silk and filagree she has also has advanced glaucoma and lost about 80-odd percent of her sense of smell and hearing  in the past six months or so. Yes, as those of you who are sharp enough to have done the math a few sentences back already recognized, she's old.

But she's been, in recent weeks, a mostly perky kind of old, the kind of old where can allow yourself the illusion that the inevitable end isn't really coming over the horizon. We still walk her around the neighborhood, she smells familiar smells and was back to her relatively silly and energetic self apart from getting tired earlier than usual (she was born a wild-hearted Flagstaff dog, one I swear impatiently circled my city-dwelling ass when i lagged behind on mountain hikes).

That is, until last night. She laid down in the dining room, kind of troubled-looking (which ordinarily isn't a problem--she's a dog with a lot on her mind), a little disoriented and apparently uncomfortable setting her head on the ground. It was like some kind of vertigo had set in, something that became even more noticible as we led her on a meandering and seemingly dizzying walk to the back bedroom as we turned in.

This morning wasn't any better as we watched her struggle to find her way around the house and, puzzlingly, get turned around and disoriented in the back yard. A vet appointment has been acquired, knowledge perhaps will be gained, but whatever happens, it's difficult to imagine hearing something like, "Oh, she has The Canine Spins, give her this peanut butter-flavored pill and she'll be fine."

It's entirely possible that the only course of action will be bloodwork, a battery of tests, debated 'procedures' and, inevitably, conversations to figure out the grim cost-benefit analysis of how to treat a dog that, especially for a shepherd, is a senior citizen in unavoidable decline.

Now maybe, gentle reader, you're one of the lucky ones who have stumbled onto this space not yet really knowing this kind of decision -- it's certainly my first time -- or, even more enviably, haven't ever lost a loved one, any loved one in your young and certainly charmed life. You probably have regular bowel movements and only sneeze maybe four times a year as well. Good on you. But, no doubt, it's coming for you too.

There's a line in my head now, well actually a few of them. The first comes from an unheard Warren Zevon album recorded near his death called, "Life'll Kill Ya." Warren knew, first hand.

But maybe the one most lingering is a line from Joan Didion's "Year of Magical Thinking" that is most apt, "It all evens out in the end." It was a line from the late John Dunne to the (eventually) late Quintana Roo Dunne, who was complaining about having to deal with such struggles of life and death while she was in school. Didion thought the line was upbeat, that good things also happen to leaven the impact of the bad. Didion was mistaken -- Dunne knew too.

But more on that later.

For now, I'm kind of pondering what waits for us, trying to prepare and being completely certain that there is no preparing, not really. Maybe this'll be something minor and the grim decisions and finalities can wait. But I'm completely assured that whatever lies ahead will wait for us for as long as it takes.


At 12:03 AM, Blogger Art said...

Very well written Chris! I wish I could think of something profound to say but I'm not that smart. Hopefully the inevitable future is further rather than closer. I can guarantee that it will hurt but I also quarantee the pain will eventually lessen. You and Bozena have each other to help one another through the ordeal. There is a cost for everything in life, the stronger the love the deeper the pain when it is lost. Shenoa gave a lot of Love!! Eventually the memories will bring smiles without the tears! Kind of like when you were a child, I wish I could take the hurt away!! Take care of each other!! You are in my thoughts!

Love, Dad


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