Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Una Going

It´s true what they say: "those whom the gods would smack upside the head, they first make happy."

Looking back over this year we´ve been very happy and golden and blessed. No one died or even cried much. We had tons of great company and wine and cheese, music and pilgrimages, trips and donativos. The flowers bloomed, the chickens laid beautiful eggs. I got a start on the book, and Kim was around to keep things humming while I hid out or lit out.

I wondered when the other shoe would drop. Because it always does. So here in October, after the last wave of Septemberness (the Camino Invierno, visits from good old friends, a couple of days at the beach), Nabi ran onto the highway and died. And now the veterinarians in Leon, some of the best in the region, tell us Una´s cough is the cancer come back, the cancer that cost her a leg more than a year ago.  Her right lung is just about done. She has maybe a week, a month at the most.This is not a big surprise. The vets told us more than a year ago that bone cancer like Una had often travels to the lungs next, and that this would likely happen, sooner rather than later. It was supposed to be a lot sooner. She´s been living on borrowed time, and we are grateful for all these extra months her pure cussedness has won for us.

So if I am distant, or I even seem like I´ve disappeared, it´s just the Una thing, OK? Because it was painful to say goodbye to beautiful Nabi, but Una? She is simply the best dog I ever had.  She is part of our marriage, and integral to the Peaceable story.

For now, she is on steroidal anti-inflammatories and the same kind of hardcore pseudo-neurotransmitter I take when I´m in dire straits from asthma. She feels grrrrr-eat through the day, chasing mice and barking at the mailman, but at night she comes crashing down, usually onto one of the beds in the salon. When she stops enjoying her dinner, or she´s in obvious distress, we will have her put down.

(We hope Kim gets here in time. If things go to plan, she will arrive in time for a Big Dog Party up at the tumberon, with liver and pig-noses and dog toys and mouse-digging enough for every dog in the neighborhood, and maybe some Burgos morcilla for the humans involved. 

On the way home from the "malas noticias" (bad news) on Monday, we stopped at the tree nursery and bought a big healthy olive tree. Yesterday we cut down the scruffy lilac in the patio, and started excavating a hole there, alongside where all the people and animals come and go. Excavating in adobe takes a long, long time. We´ll dig a bit more each day, and watch our Una dog. And when the time comes, we will put the olive tree in the ditch, and curl her body up around the roots, and bury them together. Una can still be part of the life here, even though she is gone. Right there at the heart of the house.

Una is still very much around, and may be for a little while, so I am not overwhelmed. I need to keep myself on a steady keel, as I am preparing chapters for a literary agent interested in seeing a Peaceable book. (Apologies to those who are waiting for the Camino Invierno guide, it´s next!) I am trying my best to pour all this emotional energy into the writing. But I am also ready to let it go, if they agent says no. I need to let the book go, and let the dog go. Like I have let the house go in the last few days... the pilgrims seem to sense that. No one´s come knocking at the gate since Nabi died.

Things are unhinged. Everyone´s being fed, but there´s not a lot of Big Fun happening here. Just Real Life.

11 comments:

Timecheck said...

The good thing is that we can go on. Otherwise the cumulative losses would leave us in a shambles by our thirties. Pets, relatives, parents all interspersed on the devastation scale, and I can bring the earliest pets to mind forty years later.

ksam said...

We can and do go on, but it does take time. Sometimes quite a bit of it! I love your plans to have a lovely olive tree as her "marker". That's always been my wish..no stone..just a tree, specifically, a larch (too many Monty Python episodes!) Here at our house....our pets (several cats, a rabbit, a few hamsters and two lizards) are all under our pink dogwood. Praying for you all and glad to hear Una has such good caretakers for her journey. God bless you all! Karin

Laura said...

When it comes my time to go I hope that God provides me escorts who offer the kindness, love and gentle respect that you and Paddy give the animals in your family. You have blessed, and been blessed. I pray for peace and comfort for you, for Paddy, and for Una in the days ahead.

Lynne said...

Reb, I cried when I read this post. I have lost several furry best friends over the years, and I'm remembering them today - that's something I'm very thankful for. We retain all of the wonderful memories for as long as we live and can visit them anytime. My heart goes out to you, Patrick and Una for the journey ahead. You've had enough sorrow now.
Peace and love,
lynne

Anonymous said...

...big sigh....big hug...big love all around...and life goes on,
k

verena said...

your friends are with you dear

Ryan said...

Reb & Paddy. I'm sorry to hear about the turn in Una's condition ... poor thing. You're right that she and you both have been fortunate for all the additional time she's had. That is a blessing on it's own. I know it will be hard, and especially so soon after Nabi, though I know you are both good, strong people and will soldier on. I think your plan for the olive tree is absolutely beautiful, little as Una's doggy brain might comprehend or appreciate it, I'm sure she knows she is loved. I'll miss that smell, scruffy dog. Love you both muchly.

Br. Francis said...

Greetings from the rolling hills of southern Indiana. Sorry to hear about Nabi and Una. I'm not ashamed to admit I bawled like a baby when I gave up Dixie in 2006 to come to the monastery, and then again in 2008 when I learned of her death. No good, and no fun. Sometimes letting go and falling apart is the only thing left to do, and ultimately the only thing we can do. But, we are all pilgrims, so the march goes on, no matter how many feet or paws we have. The olive tree is a great idea. We all need to remember, and rejoice in hope, even through tears.

Peace to you and all God's critters.

Br. Francis

FrereRabit said...

Sorry to hear the news, Reb. The olive tree is a good idea: maybe it will grow with a familiar bark. I haven't even got any animals here yet, but I'm dreading getting attached to animals that eventually die. It's tough.

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swagofsins said...

I called through and had tea last year. I patted Una. Saw her tail wag. My thoughts are with you. I'm so so sorry...

archguitar said...

Oh, I am just so, so sad to read this. Una was an angel. I have several lovely pictures of her. I'm so glad we could meet her this summer. Warmly, Maddy