still mine

Monday, February 22, 2010

Jake - my big red love - always

Two passages from the book Dog Years by Mark Doty. His writing feels so much like my own thoughts, my own feelings. I don't remember a book that's ever struck me like this one did ...

The capacity for despair is probably equivalent to the ability to experience joy; such depths in the self are required in order to make possible the mounting of heights

But despair and depression, of course, are not the same thing. Depression is nearly always the consequence of despair, a despair one cannot feel one's way through in order to emerge from the other side, a despair that will not be moved. Sometimes such pain–perhaps especially when it's been known for a long time and all one's resources are used up, depleted–takes hold in the self; it becomes the climate in which we operate, a daily weather. Depression–simply the state of being exhausted by despair?–takes up residence in the desk drawer, the pile of shoes at the bottom of the closet, last night's unwashed dishes tumbled in the sink. Despair is sharp, definite, forceful; it is a response to experience. Depression accumulates, pools, sighs, settles in: it is the absence of response. It does not make things move. Consider our tropes for it: a cloud, a shadow, a weight. It lingers, broods, sits heavily, it replaces the sharpness of grief (which no one can bear to feel for very long) with the muffling emptiness of fog. Except that I love fog, with it's veils and secrets, it's lusters and atmospheres. Depression, more precisely, is a kind of dirty haze, and dims everything without adding mystery. It slows and conceals and stills the circulation of the air. p 155

I have my face down against that smooth muzzle, the ears that still smell, as they have all of his life, of corn muffins. Paul's holding him from the other side, so that we can both be in his gaze. We each speak to him quietly. First there's a shot to relax him, to make sure the second shot will work, and I don't think he even feels it. And then we ease him out of that worn-out body with a kiss, and he's gone like a whisper, the easiest breath. p 213

I've changed my ways a little;
I cannot now run with you
in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you,
if you dream a moment, you see me there.
I loved you well, and was loved.
Deep love endures
to the end and far past the end.
If this is my end, I am not lonely.
I am not afraid. I am still yours.

An excerpt from The House Dog's Grave Robinson Jeffers

Jake's been gone just a little over two years. I still think about him every single day. I look back now and I think when that handsome red dog came along, I let go of a life's worth of accumulated love. I gave it to him, willingly and easily. And as soon as he was gone, and after, for the longest time it felt as if all of my truest love went with him. My grief over the loss of that big love became my despair, my Ache & Sadness, my depression. You know that I've since fallen in love with the cowboy ... but oh my, how I love that dog still.

and I think it's much easier, for me anyway ... to be in love with a dog.


  1. Wiping my eyes here, Susan.

    A lovely post, for all the Jakes, and Beckys, and every dog who loved unconditionally; for all the cats too, who demanded more but gave just as much in their own ways....

  2. Good morning Rachel and merci for the comment. Oliver is very much the kind of cat you speak of (and Ernst before him) ... some animals just connect with you in a way that's awe inspiring. Oliver sits on the bath mat each morning keeping me company while I loll about in the lands of bubbles and scent, chirping at me if I whisper his name and this morning I felt like my heart would burst I felt such big love for him. xo to you & yours from me & mine Susan

  3. He will always be there with you. And you'll see him again one day, I am certain.

  4. beautiful quotes and lovely tribute to jake. i still think of presley every day too. so many things that the puppies do make me think of him. and, yes, loving a dog is the easiest thing to do. they are big vessels just waiting to be filled and at least 2 dozen times a day they empty that big reservoir of love right back out on us. ((hugs))

  5. Thank you for articulating this great love and loss of yours ... I share the same heights and depths of connection with my beloved animal companions; those still present, and those who have gone on. You're right ... Not a day goes by without their tapping our memories and our hearts. I have always found myself sorely lacking in words when it comes to illuminating those sweet and wondrous beings. I am grateful when someone else is able to give an eloquent voice to that warm and comforting connection. You have captured the love so beautifully...

  6. This makes me sad. It is just like the quote you wrote, the great depth make possible the great highs. Its all a part of the journey isnt it.

  7. To be in love with a dog is oh so easy.

  8. Oh Susan, such beauty. Wiping tears away as I type. Such a blessing always to read your writing, to read your soul.


Hey ! We LOVE comments here at 29 Black Street.
Thanks for stopping by.