Saturday, September 11, 2021

Just the two of us

It’s kind of hard to get my head around this: Leo and I are all that’s left of the family of six we had on February 14, 2019. Bella died that day, Nigel a bit more than seven months later, then on February 2 of this year, Sunny left us, followed by Jake yesterday. So, roughly two years, seven months ago, we were a happy family getting on with life, but on Valentine’s Day, 2019, life started to leave our family. And now it’s just the two of us.

I think that, in a sense, I’m shell-shocked by all the loss and grief over that time. I never get the chance to just sort of adjust to my new reality because death has been always hanging around, just out of view in a shadow somewhere, but I could sometimes catch a glimpse of it, and usually sense it, just waiting to come and take away another member of my family.

This leads to unpleasant thoughts: What if something happens to Leo? What if something happens to me? Something will happen sooner or later, but is death still hanging around waiting to harvest one or both of us sooner rather than later?

The truth, as I so often say, is that none of us has the slightest idea when, precisely, we’ll take our last breath, unless, maybe, we choose the time and method of our departure, but even then nothing’s certain. That’s why I keep harping on about living for the moment, not the hour, day, week, month, or year, because sooner or later the very last moment for ourselves or someone we love will arrive.

At the same time, we can’t live our lives with the expectation of imminent death because it could be years or decades away. Focusing only on the possibility of death would waste the moments we so have, every bit as much as if we ignore our mortality completely and pretend we and those we love will live forever. The balance, I think, lies in being prepared for the inevitable, but to also try to pack as much life as we can into however many moments we end up getting. In other words, I think we should focus on every moment, not on how or when it, or any other moment, might end.

I’ve been trying to do that for the past two years in particular, often succeeding, actually, but sometimes failing miserably—I’m not perfect, shocking though that may be for some people to hear. But this parade of tragedy and grief I’ve been enduring keeps me determined to continue striving to live every moment, not just pass through them.

Toward that end, yesterday we gathered for dinner at my brother- and sister-in-law’s house, and I brought Leo. I could never bring three dogs, especially with Sunny’s lengthy illness, nor even Jake as age began to catch up with him. It also had to be all three (then, two…) or none.

Leo has a history of being carsick unless someone is holding him (no, I wasn’t driving last night), and my plan is to slowly try to get him used to riding in the car so I can bring him with me when I go visiting some people. That, and maybe to take him for walks in different places.

Leo hasn’t been on many walks since he came to live with us. Jake and Sunny were much older, and Jake was already getting arthritic, when Leo came to live us, but even so, Leo was too little to be able to walk as far as them. After Nigel died, I knew I couldn’t handle walking three dogs by myself, then Sunny got sick and Jake got even more arthritic, and walks with them became impossible. Leo will get them now.

I need to add here that my fully-fenced yard is quite large by Hamilton standards, and the dogs were always able to wander around the yard as much as they wanted to, and Leo often ran around the yard—or insisted that I run around inside the house chasing him. All of which means that they had lots of opportunity for as much exercise as they could tolerate, but Leo will now get to come on walks with me, something I need to do for health reasons. That was something I’ve put off mainly because I didn’t want to leave the dogs alone, sitting in the front window watching me walk away, and them not understanding why I was leaving them behind (they were used to seeing me drive off).

Life for Leo and me will be very different now that it’s just the two of us in our (very) little family, but I’m going to do the best I can to make sure it’s a good one for him—us—so that we can have many wonderful moments together for however long the fates allow. And if I do catch a glimpse of that dark, figure lurking in the shadows, I’ll do what I’ve always done: I’ll ignore it. Leo and I have far too many great moments to experience, even though it’s now just the two of us. I intend to make the most of as many as I can.

Leo and I took the photo above earlier this evening.


Roger Owen Green said...

"Leo and I took the photo above earlier this evening."

Your dog is a fine photographer.

Arthur Schenck said...

Absolutely. I tell you, ever since he devloped that opposable thumb his photography skills have gotten pretty good.