Monday, July 23, 2007

Sleeping Dogs

To be self-contained is a goal and a satisfaction. You have everything you need because it comes with you at all times. Everything else, then, is fillips upon the solid foundation of self-hood.

Not that I've achieved it. Though I have produced a fair quantity of sweat in that direction. But my dog is already there. I was thinking this last night, as I lay in a different bed at a friend's house. Because I was there, Nelly accepted this new place with no questions, hopping up onto the tall bed as soon as she saw me get into it, then turning around once, forming that almost perfect oval into which everything is tucked. She let go with a sigh--a sound that to me is ineffably sad, as if she'd said "Oh, well" to a lifetime of slights. But I know it doesn't carry emotion like that, although it may well be expressing satisfaction at being self-contained.

I myself have been suddenly thrust into a crash course on getting to my goal, because my world has just been detonated. The structure I had built, stone by stone, not consciously but merely by existing in the same space as another person, for seventeen years has just been announced a falsehood. Or something, since I may not have fully understood the explanation given me by someone who for the first time I have known him looked at me through eyes filled with cold hate. They scared me, those eyes. They were just like the hard, blank eyes of a dog who is about to leap, his mouth full of death.

And so everything I have known, and have wanted, is about to vanish. Life will be rebuilt from the ground up, absent the person I had pledged to do it with. And we had done it officially, the ancient way (something now bitterly regretted, I am given to understand), till death do us part. Actually, we were true to that part: the death that has occurred is of a life of shared hopes. They hit the earth with a dull clang.

And death is also appropriate to recall, because the immense pain--where a thin, sharp blade keeps going in, over and over into the same infected wound--is matched in memory only with one other. When my dog died, it had the effect of altering reality. The clouds seemed to stand still and stare. The blue and green outdoors vibrated, until I thought something was the matter with my eyes. I would see the wind lift the leaves of a bush and the sight gripped me. It was May, and the mourning doves came to torment only me: whoo-WHOO, whoo-WHOO with the volume knob stuck all the way high, so it echoed and echoed and echoed inside my brain and I wanted to shout Stop! Don't you know that I can't stand it? That I can't stand your reminding me every second that I live of what I lost? I can't stand it.

I feel this way now. It is impossible that this could be happening, this death of a life together. But now, as then, I have to accept that it is. Otherwise I will get lost in the hall of mirrors that is the recurrent waking dream: I am going to look out to the end of the drive, and I will see Mercy standing there, and she will be coming home from a long journey away.

But death is final. There is no heaven. When Nelly sleeps next to me, I touch her in the night. I am somewhat comforted.

["Nelly's World" is going on hiatus for a week or so. Please check back then!]

4 comments:

janet harrington said...

to put it less poetically than you, Melissa....this is why dogs are bitches and men are sons of bitches..there is not a dog on earth who would leave a good relationship unless abuse was a factor. Hopefully, you are stronger than you think

julie said...

Melissa,
I am here. Call me if you need to or want to.

k9crazy said...

Hello Melissa & Nellie,

Our dogs will always hold lessons for us until we are ready and able to become aware of and accept them. What a great lesson, self-containment! Other lessons presenting themselves to you right now may be adaptability, resilience, survival. Above all, living in the moment is one of the greatest gifts our dogs can teach us.

Nellie settled into her new space no questions asked because in her assessment there are no safety concerns. Her assessment was actually many questions that were asked. They were asked of the environment and the other animals (including humans) within the environment. These questions are automatic for dogs - they are always being asked. These assessments are lightening fast and can change equally fast. They are a beautiful subtle dance of exploration. Nellie had you to feed from too, although your are not 100%. She felt your sense of safety, maybe even relief, that you felt in being at your friend's home. Nellie settling in also gave you something to help yourself feel grounded.

Take note of Nellie, she will help to keep you focused and grounded on the here and now. All the while she'll be ever so observant of her surroundings and evaluating them over and over - never assuming or expecting. She will continue to move forward even if that means a circle or detour now and them. She will enjoy detours and circles rather than allow them to become roadblocks or ruts. Allow her to be one of your coaches to a new beautiful life.

With Love - Kim and the Gang - though of you this morning on our sunrise Comeau walk.

Kris said...

I'm so sorry. I'll be sending some positive energy your way. I know how crappy I felt a few years ago when I was in a similar situation. Life keeps coming at you, and it gets better.