This morning was still rough, but I feel like I’ve turned a corner. I managed to sleep through the night. The sound of song birds, ever present on the morning Nina died, didn’t hit me as painful today. Funny that I hadn’t of late been feeling the urge to walk Nina first thing in the morning, but today I had the urge to get right out there. It passed, though. I took little Willie for a walk as soon as he got up, bringing along with me some psalms to read on the trail where Nina and I walked nearly every day. I was doing okay on the walk, got to the spot I had in mind, sat on a stump, and talked to Nina for a bit. I told her I was going to read a couple psalms and that they were for her as well as for me. The atmosphere could not have been better. Willie was off barking at chipmunks, but that seemed somehow appropriate. It felt good to say the words. They felt mostly aimed at myself, for I’m the one in the world of the living who needs to have faith.
The only picture here that wasn’t taken while Nina was in my care is the one in the diablita costume. That was taken at an adoption event and posted on the rescue agency’s website and printed in their brochures. Nina looks desperate for someone to walk up to and put her forehead on their leg. She’s not one to muddle joyfully through a halloween costume parade like a big lumbering labrador. She wanted to be held.
The other pics were taken at Sanibel Island where she met my family for the first time. I love the one where we’re in bed and she is back-to-back with me. That is so Nina. Always making sure she is as close as possible, that I can’t abandon her. I also like the selfies with Marco, my son.
On the way back from my walk with Willie, who had wandered off, I encountered Maysie, the neighbor dog who was friends with Nina for years, ever since we moved here. Maysie was looking all around for Nina. Waited for her to walk out of the woods. Looked behind me and all around in search of her buddy. She followed me up the driveway in search. She sniffed the ground and followed me all the way behind the house to the pool area. She paused by the door waiting for Nina to come out to play. I opened the door to see if she wanted to come in. She didn’t. Even after I came inside, Maysie continue her pursuit of Nina’s most recent deposit of pee. She went on the deck to look for her out in the field. During most of this I got choked up here and there but it didn’t turn into a full-scale ugly cry.
The pictures below are also of the early, early days. One was a visit from Marco. Others were taken upon Nina’s return from a six week stay in the hospital after she was hit by a car. She improved every day, always walking up the stairs to our second-floor apartment with renewed determination. She had lost the muslce tone we had built up with runs on the golf course. But one day she got a little lost and crossed the road to go back home while I was calling her from the golf course. I wanted to cross the street to get her, but she turned and came back, not making it all the way across. It was another trauma, to her as well as to me. But we got through it. Oh, and I bought her a stylish jacket for Miami. It could get cold in the winter.
I was glad that Mom wants to keep Nina’s bowl because I was sad about putting it in the pile of things to give away. Her harnesses, which sent me into a loud, loud ugly cry yesterday, made it into the washing machine at last to get clean for their next owner. I’m keeping her collar, though. It’s pink and grey studded with little diamond-like stones. She rocked it.
Here are some pics of Nina visiting with her Aunt Linda’s dog, Angus. They were kids together. Just about the same age. Angus taught her to stay level with her on hikes up Mount Philo in Charlotte, Vermont. (I’d flown home with her for the summer.) There are also pics here of our new home when we moved back up here and lived in Rutland. She met my cousins Priscilla and Susan who had flown up from West Virginia for my Uncle Bob’s funeral.
Yes, I’m lingering on Nina for an hour when I could be accomplishing some other tasks, but I feel like I’m turning the corner. I’ve already bathed and checked my emails, both of which I neglected for the first full day of grief. I have things to do today, and people to see (social distancing, of course), so I won’t be malingering around clinging to my parents all day like I did yesterday. I’ll try not to distract friends and family with texts about Nina. Yesterday I worked with Priscilla on determining that Nina had actually been fostered beginning in 2008, not 2010 as previously thought. So Nina was probably born late in 2006, which would make her 13 and 1/2 when she died. That’s older than I previously realized. Thanks to Priscilla for calling it to my attention.
Those were weird years. I’d moved around the world with my Cambodian dog, Tiger, and then had to have her put down for complicated reasons. It had taken me over a month of despondency to finally rally. I’d made her a MySpace page with pictures I had scanned from the old days when I used a real cameral. Each one had a caption. It took weeks to accomplish. I couldn’t let go. After two months or so, I was finally able to talk about him without choking up. This time, it’s going better. I have learned from experience, so I know what to expect. Plus I’m in therapy, which rightly coincided with the day Nina died. That helped. Shout out to everyone who helped me through those first 24 hours of intense shock and pain. You helped me realize that I had done well for Nina despite my shortcomings and should be at peace. I accept that now and appreciate y’all’s kind words. Thank you.