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
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.
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:
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.