Molly was doing really well but then she started failing day by day. She did better after some IV at the vet’s but her then her tests came back and showed that she had cancer in her blood. After that it seemed like she was not just sliding but falling. It happened very fast. I’ve been thinking about this every day, how to tell you all about her, because I feel she deserves to be seen and known for who she was.
When Molly first came to us we already had Wilson, and Wilson could already speak human. So especially at the beginning, whenever anything happened, Wilson would look to us and Molly would look to Wilson. When it was time to come into the house, Wilson would scratch importantly on the door and Molly would sit there waiting. She didn’t know what to do without Wilson. But then, Molly came to understand. My brother commented about this one time when he and Molly were jogging on the trails up in Nova Scotia. They came around a bend and there was a porcupine. Molly began to run and my brother yelled, “Molly, stop!” My brother said she stopped so fast you could see dust rising out of the ground. Good for Molly.
Here’s what I often said about both Molly and Wilson, that it wasn’t about obedience, but about credibility. It’s just that we spent so much time together, every hour of every day, and often for many hours hiking and taking pictures, and things would inevitably come up. If they saw anything they didn’t expect, they would stop and look at me. Truth be told, she was a better listener than Wilson, who often wanted a second opinion. Molly and Wilson would run side-by-side down every pathway, and the three of us would swim together, Molly on one side and Wilson on the other. And then they would sit with their noses lifted together, smelling the wind. When Wilson died, she and I grieved for him together, and I think it was harder for her than it was for me because she had never known the world without him. I used to feel so bad for her. But then she also had her own happiness in her own self, and she also had our undivided attention, as well as her favorite seat in the car, without any competition. I won't say it made up for Wilson, but at least it was something.
Here are some pictures of Molly and Wilson together...
And some pictures of Molly herself...
And when Molly got sick (after some initial outrage when she woke up and found her leg was missing…) she got through it all, including the discomfort, with strength and energy that grew every day. And she handled her pain. It was hard to know how much medicine to give her, because she must have had pain, and I learned as we went through this together, that she had much more pain than she showed. Even so, she had joy every day, I would say almost every day, until the day she died, just the pure physical joy of the moment, the joy of feeling, smelling, running, tasting, the joy of riding in the car, the joy of being with her tribe.
And she had the softest fur, and the deepest darkest eyes. She would rest her head on my knee and look up at me with those wonderful eyes.
Molly died in her sleep at my mother's house, with me on a cot beside her. She died the night before I would have gone to the vet to put her down. Then Bill and I took a trip to see the family and we just got back to Block Island, and as soon we came home, there was a mixture of ease and sadness. I vacuumed the house, knowing that I was picking up the last of Molly’s hair and our house would stay clean for a while. I went up and down the stairs freely, I didn’t have to stay on one floor or carry her with me. I had my side of the bed to myself. The struggles and worries were over.
I know that everything will be simpler now. The move out of the house will be simpler. Trips to the mainland will be simpler. The boat will be simpler. We need that right now, but I will say she has left a vast, clean, empty space behind her. I will say that her absence is everywhere. I’ve never done photography without Wilson or Molly or both. With very few exceptions, they were with me in the background of every single picture I have ever taken. So I don’t know how I will do it. I don’t know how I will see the natural world without Molly. I'm actually afraid, but I know that I will keep on taking pictures. I will just have to do it and not run away.
I will rest in the empty space that she has left in every aspect of our lives. I will think of all the ways that life moves in where ever there’s room, especially now with little buds yearning forward, and birds on their nests, and the warming sun melting through the fog as it has been doing here every day. I will think of that space as a beautiful thing, a place to remember, a place to meet heart and longing, a place to know what life is, place where things can grow.
Why do our dogs live for such a short time? I don’t know, but I accept it. I mean, I believe in the world the way it is. I will try… No, I will vow. I vow to remember all that Molly has taught me about being a person. There is something so pure in the way that she was in the world. She was just herself with no filters, and that gave her such presence and connection and courage. That’s what she gave us, just herself with no filters. She showed us how beautiful that can be.
I thank those of you who knew about Molly because of your kindness and I apologize to those who didn’t know, because it took me some time to be ready to write about her.
Today I sat down to remember. I wanted to honor her. And I felt…no remembered…well, I don’t know… It was as if she was still with me, knowing me with her big dark eyes, leaning up against me, giving me her kisses. I know that when we got our Molly, we agreed to love and joy and also to losing her someday. That day is here, and we will have to cry sometimes, but her essence is out in the open, easy to see. She is a miracle, a mystery, a gift and a blessing, our friend, a piece of our hearts, our beautiful girl.