We Pray and Suspend, the Notion that these Lives do Never End.

Long before this past week, this song “Sadie” by Joanna Newsom broke my heart every time I listened to it. The meaning on the surface is about her own pup, but the lyrics quickly plunge me below to the lesson I have learned, over and over, through grief and loss. Trancelike, we can move through our lives unaware of our final destination, conveniently avoiding stark reality and instead taking ourselves, each other, this world for granted. Not knowing what we’ve got ’til it’s gone, we give priority to the petty and live to regret it later.

I fall prey to this forgetfulness sometimes. But one of the gifts of my brother passing three years ago is the awareness of the acute preciousness of those we love and are bonded to…and the worthiness of letting that preciousness keep us awake to this amazing journey called life.

For me, Leo was the embodiment of the brilliant and fleeting spark of incarnation, his existence the tail of a comet that I chased every day, awestruck. I also was fearful of the inevitable fading out, knowing that my own sky would be bereft.

The first week.

On Tuesday morning I lay at his side, gazing into his eyes, saying “thank you” over and over. Throughout my being I suddenly remembered, in that kind of bare bones way, how lucky I am. In light of my shared love with Leo, it is so clear that any self-judgement, inner criticism or self hatred is such a sad untruth. Everyone says how fortunate Leo was to have me. Yet I know that it’s really the opposite that is true. Leo and I found each other and he decided to share his glory with me. Any story I have about my own bad luck or how “things don’t work out” is a disgrace to the true fortune of having found this soulmate.

In the moments after on Tuesday morning, Leo was suddenly everywhere and nowhere at all. 20,000 times a day I hear him, smell him, remind myself of what he might need and then am left gasping when I realize how my hands are empty.

My body is so so infused with my love for him, each deep heart beat says his name and the pain comes when I move out of that and into the world where I want to give it to him…and he is nowhere to be found. Moments are variable, sometimes alive with his spirit that flares up like a flame and sometimes greyscale when regret and self blame bind my feet with chains and stones, dragging me to the bottom of the ocean.

Tuesday night I couldn’t remember the point of it all, of loving and then suffering. The just past full moon blared down, my heart matching the barrenness of moonscape. Then suddenly, knowledge resurfaced, springing into life from the rain of grief like spring wildflowers in the desert. It was this:

To love, means to eventually grieve. And to move through grief means to eventually love.

The last morning.

I can’t tell you any more of the story right now, or the details of how and why. Why is an unanswerable question anyway. There is much ahead of me, and I know very little. What I do know, what I can say, is this.

I love you Leo, and I miss you so, so much.

For the backstory on our incredible love-ship.


13 thoughts on “We Pray and Suspend, the Notion that these Lives do Never End.

  1. Dear Mary, thank you for sharing so honestly these raw feelings that make us alive and tender and oh so vulnerable. What an incredible gift these furry companions are! I too want to believe that these lives will never end but trust that the love endures. Much love to you and Leo.

  2. Darlin’, I don’t know what to say to you other than I’m so, so sorry. I promise you that it gets better. Your memories of him, if you hold onto them, won’t fade, but the immediacy of the pain absolutely will. You might be able to remember Leo with only a small sorrowful squeeze of your heart, only because he’s not there, but then you’ll smile because he was such a sweet fuzzball.

    These may sound like empty words, but I know it’s true. And maybe some day in the future, another four-legged ball of fire will come into your life, and he or she won’t take the place of Leo, but simply reside there beside him in your heart.

    Love and warm smiles, strength and hugs.


  3. Ugh. So hard. So sorry that you’re going through this Mary. May your beautiful fuzzy soulmate rest in love and peace and as your heart breaks open may that same love and peace rush in to fill the emptiness. Strength to you friend.

  4. I remember when Leo first came into your life, and you telling me the story of finding him on that stretch of highway. I remember your uncertainty, the sense of “what the hell am I doing with this slightly neurotic dog?” that overlay those early days. And then I watched as your bond strengthened and you became inseparable. He was no longer a “pet” but a spiritual companion and teacher on your journey. Just as you calmed and oriented him, he grounded you.

    My heart grieves for you, my friend, yet I can’t quite bring myself to say I’m sorry for your loss — because it’s the flip side of the depth your love and affection for Leo, the grace of your friendship, the strength of your connection. And for that kind of profound blessing, I could never be sorry.

    Much, much, much love to you….

    1. oh linda susan, thank you. and you hit on something that i haven’t spoken about to anyone…that “flip side” of the loss. i would be tempted to say that tuesday was the most awful day of my life. except that it was a day spent with leo, in love and gratitude….and indeed it is a blessing and i am not sorry either.

      you truly get it. thank you for understanding. i love you.

  5. my heart breaks open, wide, wide, wide. that feeling of staring into his eyes and saying “thank you” again and again is so deeply familiar and moving to me. i think it is what that cycle of love and grief are all about. pure charged gratitude, the deepest connection possible. i am so very sorry for the loss of your family member; i will be thinking of you all and wishing you peace. i feel like i knew him a little bit through your gorgeous photos and words, ever since i first came here to this blog. and i am thankful to have had that glimpse of such a special little lion. soooo much peace and love to you right now.

  6. I’m very sorry for your loss as well – we do, most of us, know that to be attached to anything as impermanent as a living creature is to set ourselves up for the pain of losing it, but it is so often so difficult not to grow attached, especially when the living creature in question is a bright little puppy! But, I would like to think that the love you gave to it will never be lost completely, that it will always be felt in the world in some measure.
    Much love from a great admirer of your blog 🙂

  7. there was never a more appropriately named dog than leo! what a guy….mysterious, all strong willed and beautiful sun-filled mane.

    i am so so sorry for your loss. i send a teary-eyed smile to leo, and hugs and much empathy to you and yours. take care.

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