subscribe: Posts | Comments      Facebook      Email Steve

A thousand little things


I awoke in the middle of the night last night. Was on my back and automatically reached with my right hand to the right side of the bed, to put my palm on Gus’s soft, sleeping little body. But there was no Gus there.

It’s a thousand little things like that. I still haven’t removed his bed from its place by the balcony. It’s dumb to keep it there, I know, like some kind of relic, but I just can’t bring myself to move it. Same with the bag of kibble. I should really throw it away, and I guess I will sooner or later, but not right now. I could go on and on with the rituals that were so ingrained in my daily habits but are no longer needed. But I’ll spare you the details.

Marilyn called the other day to see how I was doing and I told her I know I need to stop whining and crying to everybody. People mean well, and they were wonderful that first week, giving me their love and sympathy and in many cases crying along with me. But “I don’t want to overstay my welcome,” I told Marilyn. People are going to start wanting me to shut up already and get on with things, and I don’t blame them. That doesn’t mean my own private grief needs to abate. But it does mean I have to stop talking about it all the time.

Still, this is my blog: the place I get things off my chest. So if I can’t write about Gus and his aftermath here, why have a blog?

I actually find I’m not weeping as much. I don’t think I cried at all yesterday, although I thought about Gus often, and every time I did I felt that great big hole in my heart. I doubt that emptiness will ever be filled; at least, I can’t see a way it could be. I could get another dog, and my friends who have gotten second (or third, or fourth) dogs have told me emphatically they never resented their new pets for not being as wonderful as their former ones, even though they worried that they would. Paul, whom I’ve known since before kindergarten, told me he’s had six dogs over the decades, and every one was as precious to him as its predecessors. That’s encouraging; I may well get another dog in the new year. But not right now.

Besides, I had Mr. P., my cat, for nearly twenty years, and I loved him madly, and also grieved when we had to put him down. But as Gus showed me, I had more than enough love to share with my cat and my dog. Each was wonderful in his own way. Of course, cats being cats, there was a lot more interaction between me and Gus than with Mr. P. Gus and I were like an old married couple, completely attuned to each other’s ways. Mr. P. liked and trusted me, of that I’m sure, but Gus…Ah, Gus was devoted to me, wanted only to be with me, felt safe and protected with me, and didn’t feel complete unless we were together. And vice versa, I might add.

He was my best friend, my partner, my mate. My life as a wine writer kept me somewhat isolated from others. Writing is a solitary profession; writers live largely in their heads. I was a very social boy and adolescent, but I grew somewhat cantankerous in adulthood and largely avoided the kinds of ties other humans depend upon in this world. I did that by choice, fully aware of the disadvantages, but knowing, too, that as countless shamans, brujos and hermits have discovered, there are joys in living an interior life. At the same time, I’m only human, and occasionally was overwhelmed with loneliness, especially after I retired; and that’s where Gus was such a godsend. Neither of us had much in the way of social connections or things, but we had each other, and when we were together, we had the riches of King Croesus.

I need something to distract me, so I’m doing a remodel on my place. It’s going to be a total nuisance, as anyone who’s ever done anything similar knows: weeks of disruption and physical inconvenience. But I want to do it and so I will, and it will be good for me. Maybe when it’s over, sometime early next year, I’ll look for a new dog. The local shelters are “slim pickins,” as they say, because so many people are adopting dogs in the pandemic. Mostly what’s out there are pit bulls, and I’m sorry, all you pit bull lovers, but I’m not getting a pit bull! Somewhere, maybe, in the coming months, I’ll go to the website of the East Bay SPCA or the Berkeley Humane Society and see a photo of a dog so sweet, so wonderful that it just begs me to bring it home. That’s what happened when I saw Gus’s picture online, all those years ago. I don’t have that picture anymore but let me tell you, as soon as I saw it I fell in love. I think I want to fall in love again.

  1. Carolyn Bailey says:

    Oh Steve…You will fall in love again and that will be one lucky dog..xxoo

  2. Love is scary. So much to gain, so much to lose. It’s a lot safer not to love.

Leave a Reply


Recent Comments

Recent Posts