Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Sweetness and the Sorrow

We have had forbidden conversation; we have had oral intercourse; we are bound in telling story upon story with nothing but the facts. We are training each other in acts of communication we barely understand. We are, constitutively, companion species. We make each other up, in the flesh. Significantly other to each other, in specific difference, we signify in the flesh a nasty developmental infection called love.

-- Donna Haraway, The Companion Species Manifesto: Dogs, People, and Significant Otherness
The Sweetness

My typist awoke in the middle of a dream this morning. It was a remarkably happy dream, especially when you consider the aching sadness in which she had managed to fall asleep the night before. In the dream, the moms were having a party, a big, raucous, decadent gathering like dozens they have hosted over the years in the re-built home they jokingly refer to as “the palace.” Friends were jammed into the great room, milling around the peninsula in the kitchen over drinks and noshes. The mood was festive, even a little giddy. Suddenly, to the moms’ evident surprise, a couple of the guests commanded the group’s attention for a moment of ceremony. They stood up, each with a bag in hand, and started making speeches that were some kind of tribute to the moms. They opened their bags and began presenting the moms with small gifts. One of the gifts to Moose was a bottle of shampoo called “Feelings.” Moose laughingly accepted the gift, though she insisted she did not use that brand of shampoo. She woke up at that point. In sleep, her hand had reached up to her cheek. She could feel the broad smile on her face as she awakened. Even in unconsciousness, you see, she is prone to moments of severe literalness, but the dream helped to calm her. It was her mind’s way of taking in the incredible outpouring of love and concern that transpired yesterday through e-mails, Facebook, and a series of phone calls.

The Sorrow

There is no pretty way to say this, so I will just say it plain, because I know you care deeply about me and expect the complete, unvarnished truth:

I am dying, beloveds.

Yes, it’s true. The embodied Roxie, the old dog with the leaky heart, is knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door. Assuming there is a heaven and dogs go to it, that is. I will let you know. Soon, perhaps.

I will spare you the unpleasant details and say only that my liver is failing, not my leaky heart, though that is not in great shape either. The moms brought me home from the vet’s last night to weigh the options, but without a lot of hemming and hawing we have quietly decided to let nature take its course. I have been resting comfortably since we got home, taking bits of food and water when they are brought to me, but unable to walk or do any of the other things that make me me, with the notable exception of blogging, of course. Some things never die.

That is something you need to keep in mind as we make our way through the next uncertain steps of our journey together. The vet says the embodied me probably only has a couple of weeks left without treatment. I will starve to death, she says, which is not nearly as awful as it might sound. Moose’s beloved father, known here and elsewhere as Frig, essentially starved to death in 1991 when colon cancer metastasized throughout his abdomen and blocked his bowel. Moose was a witness to his dying and has always insisted that, aside from the perfectly crappy fact of its happening at age 60, it was not a bad way to go. So far, I am inclined to agree with her.

And so, having been a part of my living over the past three years, you – whoever you are, wherever you are, out there in what I recently described as the aching, overflowing void of cyberspace – are now to be a part of my dying. Lucky you, right? But maybe it won't be so bad. Perhaps heaven won’t turn out to be so very different from cyberspace, and you and I will just keep making each other up, as we have been doing all along. Perhaps we’ll discover together the deep truths of the dream my Aunt Katie reported a few weeks ago, in which she generously imagined this blog as a crossing of knowledge worlds and of the worlds between the living and the dead. I assure you Moose and Mark Twain are already consulting behind the scenes on the problems of persona management that are likely to arise from my slipping of this mortal coil, but you know those crafty devils will figure out how to handle them. I foresee a series of long meetings, perhaps over lunches at Ishmael’s, the seedy yet cozy bar around the corner from the global headquarters of RW Enterprises, LLC, where the two of them will thrash out strategies aimed at persuading you to believe that old dog bloggers never die -- They just have longer telecommutes. It’ll be funny, I promise! And there’ll be buffalo wings and fried mozzarella sticks for everybody! It’s pretty to think so, isn’t it?

It’s more than pretty, kids. It is essential. Yes, there is sorrow in Roxie’s World, but even in the midst of sorrow we feel the sweetness that surrounds us – the sweetness of the many joys we (Moose, Goose, Roxie, and all the embodied others of our actual world) have shared over the 15 years of my earthly life and the equally profound sweetness of the virtual world we have brought into being and shared with all of you since March of 2006. Remember that this quirky little corner of the blogosphere was born out of the uncertainty of my original diagnosis of mitral valve prolapse. My damaged heart set this deeply serious silliness into motion and has seen us all through more than three years of love, laughter, and the rich webs of connection that have been enabled by the extraordinary convergence of technology, imagination, and my typist’s midlife career restlessness. Whatever may be lost over the course of the next few weeks, don’t lose sight of the fact that we made exquisite and often entertaining use of the time we had to borrow.

Stay close, dear friends, and hold the denizens of Roxie’s World deep within the mighty hearts that beat in your own dear mortal bodies. As I have said before, without you, I’m just an old dog with two crazy moms and a laptop. With you, I’ve got a whole world in my paws. And right now, I feel the need of that whole world most acutely.

We’ll sign off for now with the sentimental song that inspired this post, because sorrow brings out my typist’s inner show queen and we don’t mind indulging her today. This one goes out to all my candy men and all the dykes with dogs and anyone, really, who ever had the guts to believe that love is never gone. It isn’t, darlings. I swear to you, it isn’t. Belt it out in your biggest Broadway voice.


  1. Dearest Roxie - tears have been running down my sentimental cheeks at various inconvenient times of today when I've thought of you (which has been often): courage (to be said with a French accent - cooo-rrrage, mon amie, and strength and much love to your humans too

  2. Merci, Kate -- je t'embrasse tres fort.

    Mon dieu -- Do dogs in heaven speak French? ;-)

  3. Aw Roxie. I've only known you for a few months, but I'm so sad to hear that you won't be with us in embodied form for much longer. That said, enjoy the sweetness that is now, and let your humans know that I'm thinking of them as you all move through this time together.

  4. Ah Kate and Dr Crazy -- Kate, the three of us send love right back to ya, and are basking in what you sent our way. And Dr Crazy, Roxie is pretty amazing, so though she's changing forms, I'd be willing to bet that we'll still be hearing from her, and regularly. Terriers are, after all, very determined, and this is transition, not disappearance.

    Rox, your Grandmamma (Mammo) in Austin, Texas, just told me that if she were here, she'd get you up on the guest bed with her and get you to snuggle her right behind her knees, just like you did 5 years ago. And she even said she wouldn't care if you wet the bed. Such a thing is, in her words, a very small matter in the face of Big Love, of which you are an irrepressible bundle.

    We're with you, Rox. I treasured my day with you today, and will treasure every one we have left on this side of your transition.

    I LOVE YOU, love Moose, love Kate and all your legions of loyal fans, including you, Dr. Crazy.

  5. Candy Man11:31 PM EDT

    You've been much in our thoughts over here, Roxie; one of your youngest fans spent some time in sadness this afternoon, coming to terms with your mortality.

    I think you're right, that what some people call heaven may indeed be a bit like cyberspace. It's a lovely -- and loving -- thought.

  6. Oh Rox, I've been looking for this post all day, checking here and facebook, thinking of you but also knowing (having had that dream) that you will keep up the blogging throughout all these changes. Mark Twain told me that night he had been thinking about how to welcome you to his side of the bar. I know he will do a great job there, and that the moms will keep up their end as typists and cheerers on. Love, Katie

  7. dudley the beagle11:57 PM EDT

    Roxie, a beagle knows only one thing to say at such a time, and human keyboards cannot do it justice. But if you listen closely, you will hear, from a few miles to the east, a long, low bay.

    There is, however, something perpetual about a terrier, and I like Katie's comment about your moving on to Mark Twain's side of the bar. He has always struck me as just the sort of fellow who would find a terrier to his liking. An old hound for lying at his feet, but a terrier for looking him in the eye and telling him what she thinks.

  8. Dog bless you, every one -- beagles, bloggers, and, especially, growing boys learning one of life's harder lessons. I love you -- love you -- all.

  9. Roxie, I've known you since you were a pup. I cannot begin to express to you all the joy you gave me, sometimes in the sorrowest times of my life. Visiting you the other week was heart-rending and sweet. Crippled, tired and worn, you still followed me from room to room, no, actually, you led me from room to room, albeit it, slowly. While you could no longer leap into my face and lick my ears, you leaned your sweet cheek into my hand with such affection. There's a reason why humans say dogs are our best companions.

    You old dog. You old wonderful dog. I will miss you. Where exactly are you going?

    If you're ready, old friend, don't stay around for us. It's okay. We'll be okay.

    With much affection for your typist and her partner, for Goose and Moose. You could not have had more loving devoted humans.

    Your pal, Margie

  10. Anonymous8:12 AM EDT

    Luv you Rox, and the moms. All my very very best, James

  11. I'm sorry, Roxie.

    Happy trails.

  12. Roxie, it was good to have met you, if only once in your embodied form.

    I believe the saying that old dogs never really die. Wherever your journey takes you next, we will be waiting for your typist to translate faithfully.

  13. Anonymous1:39 PM EDT

    Oh Roxie, Lassie's got nothing on you ol' girl. You have kept us informed and smiling for a long time deserve some rest. We look forward to the amazing posts you will channel through your typist (Moose) in the and unfettered of the constraints of your body's shell. In the meantime, enjoy the sounds, smells and caresses of those who have loved you your life long...heaven can wait a minute more.

    with brimming eyes and lots of love,

  14. dog-eared book8:34 PM EDT

    Hey Rox,
    How ya feelin' tonight? I thought you might enjoy a little You-tube funkiness. I've always been convince that they're calling your name, round about 57 seconds on this clip:
    Funky, funky!
    Love to you, and your humans. Hope you're feeling happy and well-loved -- and comfortable, of course. Much love to you and yours --

  15. You know they are calling my name there, DEB, 'cause I am one funky dog! Thanks for the very hip vid and the good wishes. I am hanging in there, as tonight's update suggests.

    Stiff upper lips, beloveds. No funerals yet in Roxie's World.

  16. Dearest Roxie,

    I'm not sure that I ever properly thanked you for being such a gracious host during my last visit. While Moose and Goose kept me well fed and watered, as they've done for you these last 15 years, you kept me safe and warm by snuggling in the guest bed. Oops, not sure if that's against house rules or not, but then M&G aren't exactly sticklers for rules now...are they?

    As to your upcoming holiday, I'm quite certain that canines and criminals meet in heaven. It would be the height of injustice for the souls of people to transcend eternity sans the faithful companions who accompanied them during countless excursions through hell on earth. Besides, if Jesus himself gets to gallop across the galaxies on a white horse, shouldn't the relatives get to retain their cold nose of choice? Or, in the case of Aunt 'Laine, however many noses she cares to bring along for the ride.

    Upon arrival, you'll look down to see something you're not accustomed to...a very sad Moose and Goose. Fret not, it will pass, but it cannot be rushed. You can help, however, by sending them a genteel bark of encouragement to find you a playmate. In due time, you will all be together...four warm hearts and two cold noses...forever friends...because God said that it is not good for man (or woman or man's best friend) to be alone and so they shall never be.

    So, with a tip of the hat to the patriarch who preceded you, I leave you with this...see ya' later, Sweet Roxie.

    Uncle Brad

  17. just wanted to add my voice and say: this post made me cry, and, as a dyke with a dog as well as simply as one of your readers, I'm so sorry to read this. My two-year-old puppy lies snoring at my feet, so I'm crying very quietly lest she wake up and try to lick the tears off: she's my first dog ever, although I've wanted one since I was a child, and I can't imagine life after her, but know that the day will come when I will have to. I hope she is as gracious as you, dear Roxie.

  18. Thanks, Uncle Brad. I am pleased to have the assurance of one who is firmly committed to the notion of heaven that dogs do get to go there!

    And I am sorry I made you cry, Masha, but so happy that you finally got that puppy you have always wanted. May you have many joyous years with her. Thanks for reading, too, and rest assured the blog will go on when this old dog is long gone. The moms are Americanists, after all -- The future is an endless series of new incarnations and possibilities.


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