Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Souldog

A hummingbird paused mid-flight inches from my partner's face and hovered there looking directly into her eyes. Right in front of me, two deer stepped from the woods onto a usually busy road. They stopped at the center line. Mo was in the car with me and we stopped too. No one else was around. The deer and I looked at each other, and I understood that they knew Mo was with me. Slowly, they walked to the side and watched us pass, never leaving the road even as we neared them. At the same time, two rainbows hung over Portland, and thousands of miles away in a little patch of grass in New York, my mom found a four leaf clover. The natural world was calling Mo home, and she was ready. She'd already told me so, but I was still looking for confirmation. Letting go of fourteen years is hard.

I was by her side the afternoon she died. I had been with her all weekend. It was my privilege, those last three days, to cook for her, hug her, and make sure her every need and want was met. Of course, Mo lived her life making sure her every need and want was met, but those last days with her were different. They touched the very edges of perfection. Sweet and sorrowful, each moment was filled with wonder the way they sometimes are when gotten exactly right.

On her last morning, she followed me around, as she always did, limping and wagging her tail. She was sweet and loving, as she always was, and I knew this was right. She deserved to die just as she lived - gently, happily, filled with trust, treats, and goodness. You see, Mo was good. Perhaps not in a "sit, come, stay" sort of way, but her joie de vivre, her forgiving and devoted soul, and her mischievous and kindly spirit were the sort of goodness we strive for in ourselves, the sort of goodness we hope someone remembers us by on some distant day. 

We held her close and told her all of her best stories, including the time she took a bite of the homeless man's burrito as he held it near his knee, and how so long ago, on our first day together, I took her to the river. She was around three and busting with excitement and energy, so I threw a stick into the water. She immediately swam out for it, but kept going until she got to the other side. As she bounced up and down the far side of the Clackamas River without a care in the world, I wondered how I would explain this to the rescue people. I soon learned Mo didn't care about explanations. She lived in the moment, always going for what made her happy. Although exasperating at times, she always gave us a good laugh. Still does.

Her last breath neared. Thank you, Mo, thank you so much, I said, and I hugged her as she returned to that place where all that is good must eventually go.


Mo was, and will always be, my most funny, loyal, optimistic, demanding, and irreplaceable friend. My souldog. Sometime on her last day, it occurred to me that she was taking care of me too, the way she always had. I bent down, put my arms around her, and asked her for one more thing - to please help me find someone just like her who needed a home.

A month later, she sent Emmy, a sweet-natured beagle who was surrendered by her family. She sat in rescue for almost six months waiting for someone to take her home. Mo couldn't have found us a better dog, even the cat agrees. Someone said recently that it seems like Emmy has always been with us. It's not that exactly. It's more that she is the perfect continuation of an enduring love that began more than 14 years ago when I first saw Mo busting at the seams of her one size too small animal rescue vest, confident that life would go her way.
    


8 comments:

Mom said...

Very beautiful, Lisa. I miss my grand-dogger, too! She was fun when you were all here, last. I look forward to seeing here again sometime, too! XOXO

Mario said...

What a beautiful tribute. It left me feeling like I, too, knew Mo. Your writing style is wonderful.

Split Pea Traveler said...

Thanks Mom! Mo always loved her Nonna.

Split Pea Traveler said...

Thanks for the kind words, Mario. I appreciate you leaving them.

Shy said...

I am in tears after this! Brings me back to my childhood dog of 16 years. Cindy. Unlike her name implies she was a huge bear of a dog and really our first babysitter. We grew up running around fields and woods on a farm. She never left our side. She'd scare away coyotes and sit and lick us when we fell and hurt ourselves. She was always sooo worried when one of the barn cats had kittens she would sit next to them and lick them after every little meow they let out. Her tongue was the size of them! I cried for what feels like forever when she left us but a few days later we found a puppy someone had thrown into the snow on the side of a country road and left for dead. She looked exactly like Cindy and had the exact same manner. Now Ninny is 14 years old and still going strong!

Split Pea Traveler said...

Shy, thanks for telling me about Cindy. She sounds like she was the kind of friend who knew just what you needed. Her name was so cute too! Ninny sounds pretty special too. We sure are lucky to have these guys!

Constance Brewer said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Mo. I was touched. You write so eloquently.
Looking forward to hearing more about Emmy. Take care--

Split Pea Traveler said...

Thanks, Constance. I think the best part of writing it was feeling Mo so close to me again. Hope the corgis are doing well! Happy Thanksgiving!