The Easy Mourning

4 years ago
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  Our hank

So far this has been a hard month; and it’s only the fifth.

We lost Our Hank {Hanky} on Sunday, November third.  He was sixteen years old and the sweetest tempered dog you’ve ever met.  He possessed the most glorious voice (his bay will echo through the hills surrounding Witt’s End forevermore), and was a skunk hunter and runner downer extraordinaire.

I don’t know how we shall ever stop mourning him.  I suppose we never will.

The mourning is easy compared to the moving on, don’t you think?

We cry, and remember, and talk together, and cry some more.  We finally manage to get to sleep at night, awakening next morning when, for the briefest of seconds, for just almost a minute we forget.  And then it comes crushing down, and we roll outta bed with shoulders sagging, that heavy feeling in our chest, an empty ache in our stomach.

We knew Hanky’s end was near.  Basset Hounds don’t usually live to be sixteen years old; his life was a long one filled with joy and love, cat and skunk chasing, the comradeship of other dogs and His People.

He suffered a stroke a few weeks ago from which we didn’t think he’d recover.  He slept and slept upon a thick moving blanket in the breakfast room.  We tempted him with tidbits from the table, we carried him outside “to go” because his back legs refused to work. 

And then one day they did.

Though his right leg dragged a bit, and he hobbled more than walked; after two or three days he sat up, took notice, and finally began to Want Out.

We were reluctant to let him out.  Reluctant to let him around his friends Trot(short for Betsy Trotwood), and Lilly: our golden retrievers.  Afraid they’d inadvertently trample or injure him.  Afraid he’d fall when we weren’t there to catch him.

But Hank was an outdoor dog, born and bred.  He whined, staring, trembling as he was wont to do now, half blind toward the door window; peering through his rheumy eyes, raising an unsteady paw to show he Wanted Out.

So we let him out.

And were amazed to see him, if not running, at least doing a good semi brisk walk about the yard.  Sleeping in the sun.  Nosing at the dog food.  Watching Trot and Lilly bark at the deer and neighbor dogs, watching them chase the hawks and squirrels.

Coming inside for his dinner, something succulent and yummy prepared for him and him alone.  Coming back inside to sleep, though he would continue to nose his way through his rigged baby gate enclosure, becoming lost in the puddling curtains, wanting Back Out Again.

Wanting to sleep in His Own Doghouse.

And then last Sunday, and doesn’t it always seem without warning through certainly there were warnings enough, last Sunday he was gone and we are left brokenhearted.

Though I believe in my heart of hearts indeed Hank is in Dog Heaven, with all my other dogs.  That Touser and Smeagol, Puppy and Boru, Strider and Mickey, Sam, Sabrina, Bandit, and Howdy were all there to greet him.  As were my father and grandmother.  Ready with biscuits in their pockets, a bone to gnaw, or a ball to play fetch.

I know this in my heart of hearts yet still there is the mourning.  And I feel I should cover the mirrors and light the candles and pull a shawl of darkest purple over my head, bending low upon my knees to wail and cry and pray.

I know how to mourn.

And that’s what makes it almost, almost easy.

My empty truth is I don’t know how to move on.

IOSW candle


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