Early Friday morning I woke thinking of Red and not able to fall back to sleep. So I got up and went outside. It was still dark, the sky filled with more stars than I’ve seen all summer. I walked out into the pasture, and just sat, looking at the sky.
I watched long enough for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, to see a few shooting stars, meters leaving thick sizzling trials of light that faded in moments. I watched long enough for the sky to lighten and the stars lessen.
I didn’t know we’d be euthanizing Red later that morning. But I was relieved when Dr. Fariello returned Jon’s call to let us know she’d come in on her day off to keep Red, and us, from having to wait till Monday when we had an appointment with her.
Red was so much Jon’s dog I was surprised by what I felt yesterday after we euthanized him. I lost all my energy physically and emotionally. I couldn’t explain what I was feeling, I just wanted to sleep.
Sleep has always been my friend. A place I can usually count on to go for healing. Something happens when I sleep, I don’t know what it is, but it somehow seems to realign my subconscious and on waking, I often feel better.
This morning both Jon and I laughed when I told him I had that song in my head that goes…”One less phone to answer, one less fish to fry” (I think those are the words).
I loved being able to dig a hole in the pasture for Red’s body. We only had an hours notice for Red’s appointment at the Vet, and I didn’t think I’d be able to dig a big enough and deep enough hole in the hard, rocky soil.
I actually love the ritual of the digging. The hard, repetitive work it takes. It gave me something important to do. A place to put my energy. A gift to honor Red and a way to keep him close, to bury him where he belonged.
I couldn’t help think of the people who died in the shooting last weekend and their families. Not to compare, but to keep perspective. To me they are very different. More like different degrees of something similar. And while my mind was doing one thing, trying to think through what I was feeling, my body was doing another.
I knew I had to let myself feel what I feel, without trying to push or think it away.
Last night Jon and I took a ride to get ice-cream. On the way he told me how much he appreciated that I cancelled my standing Friday lunch with my fiends to be with him. He said he wanted to be with me, but couldn’t ask. He said at times like this, he usually withdraws into himself.
In the hour before Red died, I could feel myself getting angry. I snapped at Jon when he asked me a question. When he said to me, “Let’s be nice to each other” and I saw how I often process pain by lashing out. By getting angry instead of allowing myself to feel the hurt.
Red, with his big heart, was genius at opening people up. He would walk into a room filled with people anywhere Jon took him, walk up to stranger, look at them and they would melt.
Yesterday, once again, he did the same for me and Jon. Helping to open us up to each other and to realize old destructive patterns that come from a place of pain instead of love.
7 thoughts on “Red, A Place Of Love”
Maria, I am so sorry for Jon’s and your loss.
This is one of my favorite portraits of Red. He will be remembered lovingly by many, many people.
Dear Maria – when our Chocolate Lab had cancer 3 years ago Dr. Fariello & Casandra came to our home. We had Choco on a blanket in our garage. My daughter and I sat near him and patted him as Dr. Fariello “put him to sleep”- he literally snored into a deep sleep. My daughter’s husband had dug a big hole in our front yard. Dr. Fariello & Casandra actually helped us wrap Choco up in the blanket and carry him down to his grave. My daughter and I buried him. At one point my back was hurting and I just fell to the ground and said “I hope someone will do this for me when my time comes”! Katharine & I started laughing with tears as you do sometimes with grieving and shock. Choco was the only dog I have had the opportunity to bury on my country property. I was very happy to read that you did that for Red. With Love, Mary Scott
Beautiful words, Maria. Digging in soil helps us to ground; it is earth-based, the most centring and grounding activity there is. And you are so right, we often lash out when we are in pain. We can all feel the pain of this loss of a loyal, loving and heart companion. Safe journeys, Red, to wherever your next home is. And heart wishes to you and Jon, Maria. Thank you for your meaningful words.
ah yes: “old destructive patterns that come from a place of pain instead of love”. Dealing with those
now in my life as we move forward and get my partner’s eyesight back from his cataracts of many
Red lives on in so many of our hearts.
Maria, you speak so clearly and beautifully.
thank you for allowing me to read your story. deep sympathy on Red’s death.
Your writing is so beautiful just like you; full of heart and emotion. Thank you for sharing and for loving Red as we all do.
He was a unique animal with a heart as big as all outdoors. He will be missed by so many.
His passing leaves a hole that only time can begin to fill. Grief takes time to process the loss and it slowly allows us the space for all of the memories we have to begin to fill that hole. Like a sore, it takes time to heal.
It is a tribute to Red that so many have expressed their feeling in so many different ways, but the thought is always there that sympathy and compassion are what we all send to you and Jon.
May your days fill with sunny, happy memories of that big red dog who brought such joy into people’s hearts.
Do be gentle with yourself and Jon! Red is a BIG and deep loss, and grieving is such an uncontrolled and difficult mental state! Sending you both heart hugs! Jane McMillen