Monday, August 17, 2009

Small Sorrows

Sid is dead.

She was put to sleep just two days ago. A week before she had graced our grand party with her bright joyfulness, incessant exuberance and those comical eyebrows that framed her sweet smile. But just a few days later, she began faltering and became ill, and by the weekend a diagnosis of acute kidney failure—brought on by asymptomatic Lyme disease—told us there was no realistic hope for her.

Phil and Claire shared a last walk with her in the sunshine, some final simple courtesies, then in the close company of those who had loved her for far too short a time, morphine freed her from her suffering.

They brought her to us straightaway, and together they picked a spot to bury her within the fenced backyard, close by the flowers and gardens and shady wood. The hard dry earth defied our efforts; recalcitrant stone bit back at our blows. But in the end they yielded, and together, the four of us carved out a hole from the hilltop just the right size to embrace a small fine dog.

Phil placed Sid to rest, with her collar and leash gently arrayed on her. We brought the other members of the pack to see her one last time; Carrie nuzzled her for a moment while Schroeder watched from a small remove. Then we filled in the hole, and upon her grave we planted an apple tree—a Northern Spy. The stones wrenched from the ground together make a neat boundary for this site. We will think of Sid often—when the tree blossoms, when the apples ripen, when its leaves blow away.

There is a subtle and irreversible change in your relationship with a spot on the earth when you turn something you have loved into its embrace. It is a marker of significance, of lasting meaning, of profound attachment—a stake, a line drawn saying "this place means something."

The last few years have been difficult, and have slowly worn away at my ability to feel. But the small sorrows have a way of finding the cracks, of wending their way inside...

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