We’re more like animals than we like to believe.
Feelings we can’t quite explain,
Urges that unsettle our soul.
Thousands of years of separate us from our nomadic ancestors,
And while there have been so many changes,
There have also been so few.
Maybe I knew.
Looking back, maybe I did.
She seemed fine.
And yet, maybe not.
She went out and did what she needed to do.
And then she came in
and stood by the door,
just looking out.
A sound just barely perceptible,
It didn’t catch me in the moment.
A sound so natural
That is slipped past me
As so many things do in this whirlwind life of mine.
But I let her out again.
She looked, sniffed, and came back in.
How many times did she do that?
How did I not notice a pattern?
Or am I imagining it all?
I took her collar off.
I don’t even remember why.
She always wore her collar.
It bugs me that I can’t remember what made me take it off.
If she still had it on, would we have found her?
He’s the one who let her out.
He feels awful about it,
But I know – and he does, too – that it wasn’t his fault.
It could have as easily been me.
Or the children.
And, in all honesty and quite selfishly, I’m glad that it was him.
It would have broken my heart if I’d been the one who let her go without a glance.
And the children (especially one dear child of mine) may well have held that guilt for years to come.
But it’s not his fault.
He turned and she slipped away.
I don’t know that it was planned,
But something within her soul said go,
And she went.
From dust we have come and dust we will return.
Rest well, my Maggie Girl.
My heart says that she went off,
found a quiet spot,
But my head still turns
at every rustle in the bushes,
every distant bark,
every knock or click or bump.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been letting her ride in the car with us
like I used to when she was a puppy.
I remember this one time – oh, it brings tears of joy to my eyes even now –
I left the pups in the car when I went in to pay for gas
(Back when you had to – gasp – go inside to pay)
And she put her two front paws on the horn and honked
until I finally came back out to find
a big dog grin, tongue out and her little nubbin tail wagging as hard as it could.
And her silly sister sitting beside her with that dopey smile on her face.
I remember when she bit Marshall.
He playfully tried to pop my behind.
She never bit another soul.
I remember how it took her approximately 8 hours
to outsmart the dog-proof trashcan.
I remember how she’d crawl under the crib
while the babies were sleeping.
I remember how I bought costumes for the dogs one Halloween
and she ate hers.
I remember how she’d squirm on the ground,
scratch her back and smiling.
And how she’d flop on the floor with at big sigh
and that one back leg tucked under.
I remember the time I was lounging in the hammock
and BOOM she jumped right up into my lap.
I remember how she hated the snow.
All 2″ of it.
I remember the beauty of her when she ran,
all muscle and speed.
And I remember how many times Marshall chased her and lost.
(Especially that one time when he full-body lunged at her and missed.
She and I were both amused.
He was not.)
I remember how she used to chase a light ’round and ’round and ’round
and if you ran the light up the side of the fence,
she’s go right up it, too.
I remember how her breath was always awful
and how she smelled like Doritos when she was wet.
(I never understood that).
I remember how fiercely she loved me and I her.
How, when she was around, I felt safe.
I remember how many tears she caught in those long, long days
of med school, residency, and early motherhood.
Fourteen years is a long time to have a shadow.
And now that the sun has set on her lifetime,
the darkness has stolen it away.
One day I may love another dog.
But it’ll never be the same.
I miss you, Maggie moo…
For over a year we’ve been attending an Episcopal Church.
It’s a far cry from our Baptist background, but it fits in a way that I never expected.
I can’t call one way good and the other bad, nor can I call one way right and one way wrong.
That’s both the mystery and beauty of religion, if we allow it be.
At first, I fumbled to hold this book and that book
and figure out what the S-songs were in the blue book.
Some people knelt in prayer,
some people leaned forward,
some didn’t move at all.
Some did the sign of the cross upon their foreheads,
some on their lips,
some over head and heart,
And some did a little of this and a little of that,
while some didn’t cross at all.
We weren’t sure who to follow or how to cross or when or where to genuflect.
But in this place where everyone was a little bit different,
Different didn’t seem so bad.
And yet, for months I struggled,
trying to follow everyone else’s lead.
Kneeling and standing,
Creeds and collects,
Prayers and Peace.
It was, quite frankly, exhausting to keep up.
But as we travelled around the liturgical calendar,
I found a soothing rhythm in the words and the sounds.
Each season with it’s own tone, one that I’d never quite noticed before.
And the words…they settled down into my heart-gut and ruminated there for months.
Until one day I realized I wasn’t just reading any more.
We work together in silence.
not an angry silence.
or a resigned silence.
but in a calm, easy, comfortable silence.
Once upon a time, I would have worried
about what he was thinking, what he wasn’t saying.
But our nows are very different from our thens
and quietness has become a language that I’ve learned.
His language, actually.
Years of his lack of words
have taught me to listen to the in-betweens.
Years of his placidity
have taught me to take my thoughts
Years of his quietude
have taught me that sometimes
there’s nothing inside the silence but silence.
And that’s okay.