Wednesday, June 6, 2007

In Memoriam, Persephone 1994-2007

I suppose I’ve been off-planet long enough; here’s my attempt to make sense of the last few weeks...

My Dearest Beloved Grrl

died in my arms on 5/15, 13 days shy of her 13th birthday. The story of how I found her, and her last hours, aren’t pretty. I’ve told a few people, but I don’t think there’s anyone who wants to see it in “print.”

Deep down, I’d known that she’d been making the transition, but her journey to the Summerlands (where there are no fleas, fireworks, or thunderstorms, yet chaseable bunnies and fresh deer legs are plentiful) still hit me hard. I also know that I could have easily lost her to breast cancer in 2001, so these past 6 years have, technically, been bonus time. I wish they’d been better for her. Let me explain...

When I first took Persephone home, we (the ex-sociopath and I) had no fencing at our rental. At first, our restraint system was chains. We tried an electric fence (with the zap collars), but she broke “through” it more times than my sanity could handle. So, we contrived an overhead run which gave her some room to, well, run. The relationship fell through, and I made my way out here, with herself riding shotgun (I’d made a nest on the floor, but she insisted on watching the road). Our first week here, I boarded her at a vet’s; when I’d found an affordable apartment, the best yard I could offer her was a 12’x6’ patio. At least she was off the tether, and we walked the neighborhood every weekday, and one park or another on the weekends. We saw our first fireflies together on the Town Lake trails.

The next few residences had adequate backyards--one with grass and another dog to play with, another with wild onions in lieu of a lawn, another that was rocky, but on a hill (excellent for surveillance, or so she told me), and the one before our current residence (Browncoat Acres), which had grass and a concrete slab to dig under--in theory, anyway. Hopefully, I have made the point that I was almost never happy with her living arrangements. I wanted her to be unfettered, to have shade and sun and grass at will, and to have space in which to gallop, like she used to do on the beach in her puppyhood. Can’t go back again, indeed.

We moved into this house over the 4th of July weekend in 2003. I remember being adamant that she be out of Austin and away from Nemesis#2. Finally, I’d found her a home where she was free to explore off-leash, switch locations at will, and make her own favorite spots. Within a few years, however, she became incontinent, and we weren’t able to treat it adequately. Her favorite spot was on the front porch, in front of the door ("take a hint, Mom"), so she was eventually confined to a run (cobbled together from cattle panels) in the backyard, which essentially put her back to where we’d started. The difference this time was in my ability to exercise her--I was pregnant with my son. At one point, I was nearly put on bed rest, and soon after that I was big enough to be uncomfortable exerting myself in the summer heat--two of our chickens exist purely because I didn’t set foot in the backyard to collect eggs for the 3 weeks prior to giving birth.

Could I make this story longer? I know I can’t justify or excuse the attentional neglect. I feel horrible for allowing myself to be coerced into banishing her from our home--I wanted her inside more often, I wanted her to be more comfortable in her later years, and I didn’t make it happen. I know (in my head) that I should focus on all the wonderful times we’ve had over the years and quit wasting energy on guilt-tripping.

Persephone had a wonderful smile.
She was beautiful.
She’d throw herself *wham* onto her back for a belly rub.
She’d also stick her butt up in the air to have it spanked--I swear she did not learn that from me.
I could feed her biscuits from my mouth.
She loved children, especially those with special needs.
She was so hurt when DH took her baby rabbit away.
Watching her take off down the beach, ears back, paws churning, made my heart sing.
She hated to swim, but did it for me anyway (what trust! what love!).
She was my best friend for nearly 13 years--that is the longest non-blood-family relationship I’ve had.
She loved to go camping; if it rained, I’d bring her into the tent with me.
She bore our rings at our handfasting.
She tolerated Anthony’s attempts at petting with grace.
She held her own when Boudreaux was in the mood to wrestle.
She behaved well in Circle.
She was the first of our animals to greet Anthony when we brought him home.
She’d howl at fire engine sirens, and at me if I sang “Blue” to her.
Of course she had a middle name: Ann.
She was always, always happy, nay, thrilled to see me.

I miss:
our walks down to the gate to get the mail
sleeping back-to-back with her
her kisses
the wag of her tail
her prance and bounce as I’d come near
her howl, and her “roo-roo-roo”
her sweet face
her deep brown eyes
playing tag, spins and play-bows included
the churn of her leg (sometimes two) as I scratched her belly
her, just her.

As far as the practical aftermath goes, her body is currently in our upright freezer (yes, it is almost impossible for me to go in there ). Neighbors run a business for which they own a backhoe; they will be coming over in the next few weeks to dig her grave (next to Kimmy’s), and I think DH will be building her coffin (if not, I have some phone calls to make). I’m considering a simple funeral, but I’m not sure what form it would take. I can’t find my copy of “I’ll Always Love You,” and it’s bothering me.

So, while I haven’t been dwelling specifically on losing Persephone, I’ve been in a self-absorbed funk. I’ve been reading, but not writing; the writing has got to get underway soon, or I will lose the best parts of my reviews to brainfade.

That said, I owe reviews for:
Greenmantle (for OUAT Challenge)
Good Kids, Bad Habits, and Dangerous Book for Boys (for BlogHer Virtual Book Tour)
Just a Geek (for NonFiction Challenge)
Irene at Large, Happiest Toddler on the Block, and A Life's Work (for Recorded Books)


Chris said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. I can tell how much you loved her and that picture is beautiful. I'm a dog lover as well and I know how much dogs mean. There as much a part of the family as anyone else. I send all of my condolences.

I was wondering where you went. It's good to hear from you again and I'm looking forward to your review of Greenmantle. I loved that book!

All the best!

Marina said...

Thank you, Chris. Nice to hear from someone who "gets it."


Am hoping to get back into the swings of things soon...the deadline loometh!

Carl V. said...

I am sorry to say that I can thoroughly empathize with what you are going through. We had to put our 16 year old dog to sleep just a few days prior to yours passing. A sudden illness led to several heartbreaking days before we were able to let go. It was an awful experience. I am so very, very sorry for your loss and I send all my understanding and condolences. It is a painful experience that seems to last and last. I am thankful for all the good memories, as are you, but I miss him terribly.

Carrie K said...

Oh, I'm so sorry to read about Persephone. I had to put my baby cat of almost 20 years to sleep a year ago last Dec and I still miss her. She outlasted three bad marriages, innumerable moves and dang.