Monday, April 23, 2012
2 am and i can't sleep. i can't summon one little dream to take my mind and set it down in a faraway land and let it go exploring. i tiptoe out of the bedroom, careful not to disturb my soundly-sleeping husband, turn on a light in the family-room-minus-a-family—sometimes it doesn't seem worthy of the name family room unless all six, almost seven, and maybe someday soon, eight of us, plus dogs, are gathered here—and sit down. lille gets out of her warm bed and joins me.
so it's just me and lille and my aching neck. oh, yeah, i forgot to mention that's one of the reasons i can't sleep. i did something to strain my neck—starting with a muscle spasm, maybe from a lot of lifting and leaning with shovels and rakes and watering cans and pots of dirt?—and the muscles ache to the point that i can't move my head from side to side or up and down, opening my mouth hurts, sneezing shoots burning streaks out from the damaged spot, and my head feels like a bowling ball perched on a twig that's about ready to snap.
but never mind that. my biggest frustration tonight is that i can't peck away on my laptop to pass the time and get my mind off things because typing hurts my neck, too. so i gather a few sheets of lined notebook paper, get three big pillows and a book to put under the paper, and scratch out these words trying—trying so hard—to get comfortable while keeping my neck motionless with all of the above stuff piled on my lap.
it doesn't take long. i think i am doing better when, suddenly, here it comes again. that spasm.
spasm: definition: a sudden, involuntary contraction of a muscle or a sudden burst of energy or activity or emotion.
i'm having one.
out of the corner of my eye i see her on her favorite wicker lounge chair on the porch. she stretches and luxuriates in the rays of warm bright light that soothe her arthritic legs. and there, by the sink, reflected in her silver metal bowl that i rinsed after her last breakfast of chicken and rice. and again, in the golden tumbleweed balls of her soft fur that remain huddled and unmoving in the four corners of this family room. and, finally, in her red collar which lies unsnapped, solitary, uninhabited, on the coffee table.
waves of grief reach me, sending quiet teardrops sliding over the curve of my cheeks. since i still can't sleep i take my lille hund—danish for little dog—outside, and together we hear the barred owls call who cooks for you? trying to find each other in the night. we also seem to be searching, lille and i, seeking a missing part of ourselves in the dark. i imagine we find her—her thick, yellowed-ivory colored fur, those big, brown eyes and blonde lashes, and the sensitive silky ears always alert for any movement, be it the rustle of leaves or the opening of the treat bag.
as she stood on the grass during her last days with us, i watched her carefully. time was running out. lizzi seemed to linger a little longer before she hobbled back into the house, taking a longer look around, her nose twitching, pulling in the air, extracting one more deep scent. was she thinking it's been a good life, this short time i've spent here on earth, or am i just anthropomorphizing?
it was a good life.
in the end, i have no doubt in my mind—i can tell you this: she knew.