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The Day After Gus


Went for a long walk yesterday after Gus’s death. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm for December 1. The leaves were orange and red and yellow and falling down. In Piedmont, they piled up in drifts.

I walked and thought, hardly noticing traffic. The sun grew warm and I took off my flannel shirt. Gus’s face rose up in my mind again and again. His eyes, maybe his best feature, so large, brown and mellow.

Gina called Gus “an old soul.” Although half chihuahua, he never barked–well, maybe five times over the years. Dogs bark, I think, when they’re upset. Gus didn’t get upset. He was an old Yoda. He just seemed to look at the world and go, “It’s cool.” He’d seen it all, and decided that mostly it didn’t matter. (Of course, food always mattered.) Another feature of his that I loved was his curiosity about people. He’d look up at every passing pedestrian on the sidewalk and want to trot over and meet them. Lots of people, mostly women, saw this old soulness in him, and adored it. Women “got” Gus. Men barely noticed him.

Yesterday was dreadful. I wallowed in grief, barely able to do anything. People called, and I’d break down. The Facebook comments—83 and counting—tore me apart. “RIP little Gus.” “Gus had an amazing life with you.” “I’m so glad I got to know him.” “A noble farewell as he crosses the rainbow bridge.” People wrote of their own departed dogs: Lola. Sandy. Sam. Rico. For all the negative things you can say about Facebook and social media, there’s this: the ability to share love and pain.

I knew he wouldn’t be there beside me in bed this morning when I woke up, but even so, it startled me. In the livingroom I looked for him even though I knew he wasn’t there. If yesterday was about grief, today seems to be about shock. It’s hard to believe it could end with such finality. One minute he’s there, and the next—shazam, gone with the wind. How does the human body and mind cope? I take some comfort in that every person who ever lived has experienced loss. We are a tribe united in many ways, of which the experience of bereavement is surely one of the more universal.

This blog. What happens now? I began it in 2008 to write about wine. That lasted for eight years, until I retired and devoted it to destroying Donald Trump and the Republican Party—a worthy cause if ever there was one. This month-long drama about Gus was merely an interlude in between the politics. Now that Gus is gone, I can’t keep on writing about him forever. I’m not going to wrap myself in black crepe and veil and be The Widow Heimoff for the rest of my life, some kind of morbid Queen Victoria forever mourning her poor Albert. At the same time, we have won the fight against Trump (I think). He’ll continue to provide fodder for ridicule, warning and commentary, but do I really want to continue down that road? Do my readers want or need it? Writing is my balm; it’s what I do in this world. I need to write, in order to have something meaningful to do every day. But without wine, Gus and Trump, there’s nothing to write about. A conundrum. If you have any ideas, by all means tell me.

Well, it will all work itself out somehow. It always does. Right?

  1. Please don’t stop writing, Steve. There’s always wine and politics and all the other trivia of getting though each day. Especially now, with this pandemic looming over us for the next year – at least! – we all need to stay connected. It’s OK to grieve for as long as you need to. You’re not alone.

  2. Your writing is about your opinions and thoughts on the things that you find important. We read you because we value your thoughts and opinions. So…here’s to whatever you find interesting and thought-provoking to share with us!

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