I asked myself if it helped Wilson to see me so upset and I decided to try to feel better. I asked myself if other people hadn’t also done this… made room for some happiness in the midst of the sorrow in their lives.
I figured out that chances are, the natural world I love, the one I feel so close to, the one I find so beautiful, has probably dealt with death before and that it’s probably got this covered. I decided I would trust it.
So I put on a smile. At first I felt that I was pushing my face muscles against a mask of sadness, but then I had a little more courage. And then I found I could hold a lot of things that I wouldn’t have thought I could hold in the same moment. Sorrow and love and happiness and beauty and sweetness and careful attention to Wilson all remained together and one did not diminish the other.
Wilson and Molly and I went out to the water. We went to Mansion Beach and Wilson was able to walk himself out there. I made him a little fort to keep him out of the sun.
The storm from the last four days had passed and light was in the water. Long rollers were coming in. Now, I’m the last one to say that everything should be all shiny. I like dark water very much. But on this particular day, all that sparkle, all that laughing energy was good for my heart. After four days of rolling and boiling, the water was still so clear. It could still carry all of that light inside it.
We couldn’t stay long. It was really too hot for Wilson, but I was able to get a few pictures. I carried him back to the car, and we had a fine day. We went to Andy’s Way, and we rode around in the car. He rested against the towel I used to prop him but he smiled and he lifted his nose to the wind. In the afternoon we went to Ballard’s Beach where the building could give him shade in the afternoon. The rollers were still coming in. I had been wondering if it mattered to Wilson, if he or any other dog gets the same energy as we do from big waves crashing. I’ll tell you this. He loved it.
I returned this morning after taking Wilson out for a drive. He slept the whole time and when I put him by the water, he didn’t lift up his head. He was working too hard to breathe. I could feel his heart pounding. I just got back from the grocery store, and this is one of the things about Block Island, that half the people knew about Wilson. They said it is one of the prices we pay on the island; that we will not be able to get to a vet in time to prevent real suffering. They told me their stories. They said not to wait. We felt like we were together in something. I just made the arrangements to get off the island and put Wilson down. I just walked into the house.
The light is bouncing off the ocean, and is beaming in and shining on the ceiling all the way into the hallway, the darkest part of our house. I have gone to get my camera and am lying down on the floor. The light has separated into all its colors and as the sun moves the light across the ceiling, I am content to lie here and watch and take pictures as they slowly merge back together.
I don’t know, I don’t know at all, how the light that fills our eyes and lives will carry our good Wilson, but I know it carried him to us. And meantime, this is the situation we’ve got right now, and we know what we have to do and we accept it, and Wilson is ours and we love him.
PS. We put Wilson down a week ago last Monday. Bill was right there also. Our vet did a wonderful job. Wilson was so beautiful. I felt an unexpected burst of joy and gratitude at the very second of his passing. I could easily have missed it. It was so small, just like maybe the feeling of the wind from the wings of a little bird flying by. I don’t know how to say this. I was overwhelmed at first, when Wilson’s death was in the immediate present, to realize how death is part of everything, how life includes death every minute. It’s not something I experience all the time, even while I’m writing this now I’ve forgotten. But what I felt at first was how much of life is given to us, how costly that is. I saw all the death it takes to keep us going. And of course these animals come and give us their whole lives. I saw life gives itself to us all the time. It spends itself for us, so freely. It made me feel that there’s more to who and what we are, more to all of us, animal, vegetable, mineral, so much more than we realize. It made me feel precious. It made the whole thing feel precious.
I think of him now. I carry a stone in my pocket for him. I hold him in the biggest, brightest place I can imagine, and with the most freedom and beauty, and perhaps, if possible, with the tastiest snacks. I feel love - his love, my love, “the” love? I don’t know. But that’s what helps me the most.
Grief is physical. I think so. I need to rest. I feel pretty naked. But here I am with every other person who has ever lost someone she loves.
We’ll be alright. We are alright.