FEATURE — Terry Tempest Williams wrote a collection of essays published together as the book, “Erosion.” Yes, it’s February – the month of love – and here I am talking about erosion.
But consider the source. I’ve been known to equate slime with love. But that’s a whole different story.
Back to love, erosion and Terry Tempest Williams. Her essays are a powerful collection of stories of change – in nature and in people.
But the essay that hit me the hardest? The one about the death of her dog, Rio. It wrecked me.
This from a woman who isn’t really a dog person.
Except for the singular dog who has somehow wormed his way into my heart.
Starting from the morning he “picked” our family two years ago by licking my husband’s sockless ankle as he sat unsuspectingly in the pen of fresh puppies who were otherwise indifferent.
Entitled, “the question held by owls,” the essay in question me recounts the afternoon the author and her husband spent waiting for the vet to make a house call to put their dog to sleep. The dog who could have very well been “a little boy in a dog brown suit” as far as her husband was concerned.
As you might expect, the essay was heavy with grief. It was also filled with reflection – and joy.
Joy for a dog whose nose led out on hikes through the sage-filled red rocks. Joy for a dog who stole her place in bed. Joy for a dog who even occasionally sunk his teeth into strangers.
But what really destroyed me wasn’t reading the dozens of little goodbyes; it was reading the many more little “I love you’s.”
Because as the author so profoundly says, “[we] live in the same house with love and grief as twin sisters.”
But not in February. In February, we’ll save the grief for another day. For another house. Or, at least we’ll try to. And, instead, we’ll focus on the twin sister of love.
I can think of no better way this February to celebrate her than with a love letter to my dog, who could very well be a little boy in a black and grey suit as far as I’m concerned:
Dear Albus the dog,
I love how you look like you’re laughing at the best joke ever told when you run full speed back at me with the fetch ball in your mouth – and then you carry on 50 yards beyond me before you stop. Which is basically every, single time.
I love how you present your paws to me – first the right, then the left, and again the right – for your nightly paw massages.
I love how you perch your chin on the window seat, watching the two-legged and four-legged passersbys out the triplet window, as I type at my desk. And then you sigh.
I love how you hop like a kangaroo when you see the squirrel who taunts you from the lowest branch of the leafless Box Elder at the top of the alley, convinced that today will be the day you’ll finally get him.
I love (and kind of hate) how you tinkle on the front door mat when guests you like come for a visit.
I love (and kind of hate) how you bark after the guests you don’t like so much. Some of whom are teenage boys who like to pretend they’re home intruders.
I love how you stand up on your back paws to full height so you can be included in impromptu family hugs in the kitchen.
I love how you help me wake up the boys every morning after their alarm clocks fail to rouse them.
But mostly, I love that you’ve shown me that even this old dog can learn new tricks, like loving you.
I guess that’s one part of my own personal erosion.
The human who could very well be a dog as far as you’re concerned.
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