Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Doggie dreams

I had an odd dream the other night.

I was in a large sunny living room looking out the window when I saw Chris walking towards the building. Beside him was a medium-sized, brown and black dog - sort of a Heinz 57.

In my dream, I knew that Chris was dead so I was elated and overjoyed to see him alive. I rushed to the door but when I opened it, only the dog was there, coming towards me.

I closed the door and went back to the window where, once again, I saw Chris and the dog. Once again, I rushed to the door but again I saw only the dog.

A third time and the same sights appeared to me. Then I woke up.

Anyone who knew Chris and I knew that we longed to adopt a dog. Chris firmly wanted to wait until we had a house and I was - and still am - torn over bringing a new animal into Sprockets' quiet, sunset years. Chris used to tease me that if someone were pushing a baby stroller and walking a dog, I would push the stroller out of the way to coo over the dog. It's an easy way to my heart!

When I read Marley & Me several years ago, I wept my way through the last chapters like a baby. All the while Chris sat rubbing my legs and handing me tissues, gently suggesting that perhaps I should put the book aside since I was taking it so hard. "I c-c-ca-can't stop." I blubbered and then the dam really burst as I closed the book.

I should have known better when I went to see the movie. Obviously I knew I would cry (you'd have to have a heart of stone not to!). But sitting there in the dark watching the heart-breaking ending unleashed a torrent of emotions and memories. All those corny Hollywood images of family-time and crazy doggie antics just made Chris' absence all the more painful. He never did get a dog of his own - our own - a dog to make us a family. And watching Owen Wilson say goodbye to Marley at the clinic just reminded me of saying goodbye to Chris at the hospital.

God I was a mess! I just couldn't stop crying - really sobbing, long after most people had pocketed their tissues and left the theatre. I think Chris' mom and grandma were a bit freaked out, not sure what was going on or what to do. Of course I finally got myself together after hiccuping out all these feelings and memories.

I've been thinking about that dream. It's easy to fill it with symbolism and meaning from beyond the veil. Chris is bringing a dog into my life, telling me to get one; reassuring me that I could do it on my own; reminding me that he's no longer alive but that he will always be looking out for me; I'm looking for something outside of myself to bring my life new meaning; I'm ready to open new doors but perhaps not ready for what I might find there; and so on and so on... The interpretations are as endlessly varied as my moods and one's perspectives. Just like life I guess.

I hope that Chris is happily playing in sunny, wide-open field with his beloved Sasha along with Pippen and Stella and Arbus and Charlie and all the puppies in heaven.

Chris' beloved Sasha

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You're sixteen, you're beautiful, and you're mine.

Belated Happy Sweet 16th Birthday to my
furry four-legged baby girl Sprockets!!

I hope I look this great at 80 !

Thank you for your crazy singular devoted love over the past 15 years - here's to the next 3... 4... 5... or more years together.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

With this ring...

I recently read The Pilot's Wife - not sure why I hadn't read it earlier but whatever. The plot (for those who haven't read it this is not considered spoiler info) centres on a woman who's husband - the Pilot - dies in a dramatic plane crash, along with all the other people on board, and the secrets she discovers about him after his death.

Oddly, the widowhood angle didn't really send up any major warning flags for me before I started reading the book - I just thought it looked like an interesting story. D'OH!! But it was OK - I didn't get all freaked out and ricochet off on some wild emotional roller coaster (hmm, maybe that is weird...). Her reactions and emotions in the aftermath of her husband's death were startlingly real and very well portrayed. I think I read somewhere that the author, Anita Shreve, did do quite a bit of research into grief responses, etc. when writing the book. (Ultimately, I was disappointed by the book - the plot was quite predictable and contrived, it left me bored.)

Anyhow, one scene that struck me was when Kathryn throws her wedding ring into the ocean where her husband's plane crashed. Without getting into plot spoilers, it was interesting to ponder her reasons for doing so. In the book she thinks to herself: To be relieved of love is to give up a terrible burden.

When my mom and dad each died, I buried their wedding rings with their ashes. I didn't really have any interest in keeping their wedding rings for myself (sentimental reasons or whatever) and I have no children to pass them onto so it didn't seem to make sense. I supose I could have had them melted down along with some other pieces and made into something else but I didn't.

I didn't keep Chris' wedding ring either. I had the funeral home place it in the urn with his ashes along with his boyhood dog Sasha's collar tag that he kept on his keychain. (He forgot his keys at home when we went to Barbados and I swear he fretted every day worrying that he had lost Sasha's tag.) I don't know what I would have done with Chris' ring had I kept it - I felt that it belonged with him, it was part of who he was... and it was a part of me that would always be with him. It was sweetly inscribed S loves C.

A friend of mine kept her husband's wedding ring after he died and she wears it on a chain around her neck but she still wears her own. Another widow I know wears her wedding ring on her right hand now. I still wear mine on my 'wedding' finger. I know that some think that it's time for me to stop wearing it but I don't really care. In my heart I still feel married. I'm still in love with Chris. I'm not ready to stop wearing it. Besides, it's a beautiful one-of-a-kind ring that I really like.

Perhaps love is a terrible burden in some ways. Remember the scene from Love Actually when Liam Neeson gently pries into his step-son's worries and laughs upon discovering that the young boy is love: "...I thought it would be something worse." To which Sam replies "Worse than the total agony of being in love?"

I don't feel pain or sadness when I look at my wedding ring. It reminds me that I was once so fortunate to love and be loved - C loves S.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


It's been a long time... not sure who's still out there, waiting, hoping, reading, listening but I'll ramble on a bit.

I've been worried that I'm losing my voice. My writing voice.

It's not that I haven't been writing - I've been scribbling pages and pages - but I've been unsure of how and even whether to set them free on the blog. I spent some time back in December re-reading some of my early postings from the first six months or so. It was an eye-opener. The first thing that struck me was how eloquently I was able to express myself, given that my husband of nine months had just died unexpectedly. I don't mean to sound full of myself but I was honestly quite taken aback at reading some of those entries. I don't know how I did that... or if I still can.

That's when I realized that I was only now beginning to really feel the pain of my loss. The translucent veneer of shock that I've lived in for the last year has begun to crack and shafts of white hot light have begun to uncover my raw heart. I've warily re-visited memories that were too painful to really look at and I'm trying to carefully ponder those experiences. If I have to carry those memories - better to hold them under the light of day and learn from them than to shut them away where they may cause more pain in the long run.

Maybe I'm just wallowing... it's hard to know when you're this close to the heart of the matter.

Or maybe it's just winter blahs...

Or maybe this blog is nearing the end of its purpose... There are lots of ideas that I scribble down - sometimes pages and pages of real stream-of-consciousness stuff, but therein lies my dilemma: do I want to expose my naked brain (and heart) to you, my readers? I would have to trust myself - and you - to let my words and my thoughts simply be. Don't know if I can do that, don't know if I want to do that.

Maybe I'll take a long walk in the snow...